Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Same blog; new look

For those who have clicked, looked and tried to find my old ‘header’ photo at the top, or my old profile ‘gr avatar’ photo from before, it is a bit changed and different looking. My top photo is a favorite one I took on a vacation many years ago to the New England states. if looking a bit compressed because I could not bear to crop it. 🙂 I did some maintenance work on the site with archives, story chapters, etc. to make things easier to find for those following either or any of the fiction stories, short and long. I do not have a definite scheduling plan set on my blog, but am trying to maintain a tentative one by posting at least twice a week, once in the middle of the week on Wednesdays, and again on Saturday or Sunday. My plan presently is to post a chapter each week to my WIP story, The Informant’s Agenda, which is the story I am more focused on right now. And, I will post at least one of another kind of post, such as a photo, poem, essay or misc. post during the middle of the week.

There are times though when ‘life happens’ and we can get behind, need to catch up, take a break, reset priorities, or we struggle trying, getting stressed out along the way, Maybe other bloggers and writers are like that at times. and the set schedule of posting might take a back seat to my other priorities. I am a wife to my husband of 47 years, a mother, grandmother, am involved in my church, and volunteer time with seniors and elderly residents at assisted living centers and nursing homes to help with those older than myself.  🙂   My family too, always comes first as I am committed to them and other obligations. My time though at my computers and my writing is nothing less than an obsession, as I love to write, but at times need to reset my priorities to give more of myself to others. It is what helps to keep a balance in my life.

But, who knows. There might also be a time when I have something that I want to post right away, because the mood moves me to go with the spontaneity of the moment and I am eager to share it, and cannot wait. 🙂 I appreciate every reader, blogger and follower here, and those too who follow or read my posts via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google, and their comments are always welcome. Thank you, to all who have visited or follow me.

And so without waiting another day or time, I am in one of those spontaneous moments and hope you enjoy my next newly created little ‘limerick’ story to follow this post.

______________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Posted November 1, 2013 by Joyce in Uncategorized, Writing

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Home: A Nice Place to Be

Home. It is a nice place to be, and always a nice place to return to after a trip.

It has been over three weeks since I last posted, but have been traveling. Revisiting our old town of Independence, Mo., seeing our old house of nine years which was our first real home as a family where we welcomed our first child, and the streets where we walked our daughter to school, walked our dog, hung out with neighbors, friends, rode our bikes, and the list goes on. But, being away made me miss my home here in Loveland, Co., having been gone from the former for over thirty years. Twelve days on the road traveling through Ks., Mo., Il., Ind., and Ky. to visit family members, friends and relatives was nice, but I was ready to return home to Colorado, to my own kids and grandkids. We get kind of spoiled and grow accustomed to our own things and in general just our current ‘nesting place’.

It does give us a new perspective on things though while gone and seeing how life goes on in other places, foreign or familiar. The changing times and distance can change the way we view things when not living there again. I think I can relate to the way a mother bird feels when she flies away to visit places once gone to, only to return to her current, familiar place called ‘home.’

It was fun browsing and shopping in antique stores, hanging out with my sisters in places where we spent what seemed like hours looking for good ‘deals.’ Then there were the long walks along the Mo. River, through the neighborhoods looking at the colorful trees with the changing leaves, the fresh look of autumn. Those were the times my husband and I enjoyed the most. Getting the ‘perfect shot’ with our cameras everywhere we went was a venture requiring patience, charged batteries, and just the right light, and time of day. Driving almost 3,000 miles through all kinds of weather, good or bad, heavy traffic, or no traffic, getting out to stretch our legs, do quick rabbit runs, or a turtle walk around the parking lots at rest areas depended on how my stiff joints felt after long hours in the car filled with luggage, a cooler, and shopping bags with goodies and bargains. It was a great trip, but am happy to be back home and once again in a familiar routine.

The picture here is one taken at home, in Loveland of our little bird house perched among the colorful changing leaves in October.


The Swinging Seniors

The Swinging Seniors
       It has been over a month since my husband, Wayne  retired after forty-seven years of employment.  And after forty-six years of marriage it is a totally new adjustment and transition for both of us. The long-awaited, and anticipated process of preparing ourselves  for this huge step has been like adding a sequel or ‘Part two’ book to our lives, together.         From high school to payroll clerk, to banking, to college, graduated, then to full-time and part-time ministry, back into banking and finally to a company known as Air Liquide (headquartered in France) it has been a productive, but interesting ride for him and he is now able to enjoy his full-time retirement.      
         As for myself. What am I retired from? Or did I really retire from anything? Good question.  Well, you see, I was one of those  ‘stay at home’ moms, and proud of it.  But, I was once in other jobs as well. I started off in the credit bureau in Kansas City, Mo., then went to a retail credit office in Los Angeles for May Co. when we moved out there in 1966 after getting married. It was right during the peak draft time of the Vietnam War.  We were not war protesters dodging the war, just a couple of young nineteen year old kids wanting to get married, go to college, find jobs, and get on with life.  We both worked at full-time jobs in L.A., Ca. while going to school during the time when the Vietnam war raged on in the late sixties and early seventies. But, we made it through all four years of school, graduated from a seminary/theological college, then had our first child in 1970.  When I quit my bank job I was seven months pregnant and never again went back to a full-time job to work outside the home. Except for a few part-time or temporary jobs while raising our two girls, I remained a committed full-time mom. I did a lot of volunteer work at our girls’ schools, our church, and other organizations.
         Through the years I took up writing, (my passion), as much as time allowed, never having to leave home to join the rat race with the other nine to fivers, but instead enjoyed the advantages of being at home to watch my kids grow up.        
    Do I ever regret not going back to a full-time job? Yes, a little, but not a lot. I would have loved the second income coming in to help pay bills and allow for extras. But, my greatest achievement is, and would always be raising two great kids that have in turn given us four great grandkids. My girls will always be my best friends no matter what we often disagree on. One does not retire from being a committed wife, mother, or grandmother. And as long as I have my mental faculties and eyesight (though not what it once was) I do not plan on retiring from being a writer.  It is with God’s help, and his faithfulness, mercy, and grace that helped me through it all when things got difficult. My relationship with my family became stronger, more concrete in ways that could only have been achieved by having more time to devote to all.
      So, about that retirement. Are we swinging and hanging with the social set, or traveling around the country in an RV, or flying above the skies to places out yonder? Not exactly. Not yet, at least. But, we are enjoying the freedom to do our own ‘thing’ whatever it is at the time we choose to do it.
     The pictures above were taken when we got away for one of those days, took a long drive across the Colorado Rockies, viewing the changing colors, and Aspen trees, to the quaint, little known town of Walden. It was heavenly, without interruptions,  unwanted phone calls, computers, or grandchildren to baby sit. And, there will be plenty more days  like it.  Whether we want to swing to music on a dance floor, swing on old-fashioned swings in a kids’ park, walk our dog along the river banks or lakes in Colorado, go up to our four-acre mountain property retreat, eat dinner out, or relax at home playing competitive games of scrabble or chess, or just watch a movie, it is our time together, that counts.        
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READY OR NOT, IT HAPPENS

READY OR NOT, IT HAPPENS

When it comes to writing a piece of prose on real issues, there are times when I have not felt like writing something to share or post. Days go by before I am ready to attempt writing again, or try to put something into words. The emotion of what I feel, how to express it, and still be clearly understood does not always come together just right. I find myself needing to edit too much, start over, or delete it all, so I put it off again. I do not like spilling out my gut feelings on everything. I want my writing to have quality, be concise and have a message whether delivered subtly or overtly. Some things are just too personal and private to share, and I am not the type to expose things not intended for a public audience. By nature, I am a very private person. Even writing about personal experiences sometimes makes me feel awkward or uncomfortable.

But, in writing fiction there is freedom in being expressive, creative, and running with an idea or thought. Lately it has not been difficult to come up with ideas. With current headlines and news reports one does not always need a vivid imagination to come up with a subject to write about. Readers and writers may not always understand or relate to what the writer is saying when writing about a subject, but from the perspective of a character living it there is a way to reach the reader who sees life from that perspective. And, there are times when what a fiction writer writes that it actually comes true in real life, because there is hardly anything that has not happened in this world at some time that has left a writer wondering, What do I write about, now? What can I say that has not already been said by someone? How do I approach it? How can I convey a message by what I write, and have it be relevant to someone, or be remembered?

As a writer I like to write the kind of fiction that tells a story that lingers in the back of one’s mind thinking, This could really happen. And, what would I do if I was the character in the story? Characters doing things, saying things that will not be easily forgotten, but remembered for how they reacted to situations in life. Although some subjects and ideas from my short fiction ‘Friday Fictioneers’ 100 word stories are inspired from a photo prompt, and seemed real enough to turn into realistic scenarios, they are still fiction. But, are they? What if those things really happened? What if that could really happen just like that, just like it is written with that plot, and those characters? In the world of fiction one can visit that place, or experience it, all of it a part of the world of ‘make believe’.

It has not been difficult to come up with an idea to go with the photo prompt provided, but it does not begin to address the real issues that stir the emotion in one as do the real life stories happening all around us with real people, suffering, or dying. That is the reality that touches people’s lives, their hearts, and the stories that have recently filled our newspaper’s pages, the internet, facebook, twitter, television newscasts, and talk shows. Our homes and lives become so saturated from all the gloom and doom of this world, where does reality end and fiction begin? There is only an overlap, a merging of the real and the fiction coming together as one. It is life, often not the picture of a very pretty one.

And then there is fantasy that does not need to make sense at all, it just needs to entertain the reader, and the movie goer. Those kinds of fantasies are in abundance, but sometimes they can hurt, if one takes it to the extreme, goes ballistic, and cannot separate fantasy from reality.

The most recent event of the theater massacre in Aurora, Co., only an hour’s drive away from where I live is an example of the reality and fantasy converging together that has changed lives, and will for a long time affect many the way they think, or live. If we are going to merely walk into a theater to watch a story acted out, or go into a store to shop, a restaurant to eat, or to our job to work, we take a risk, a chance that there might be a deranged lunatic out there that will rob us of our very life, and our last breath. It has even happened in churches where the killers storm in to find their victims in prayer, or hearing a message on how to live, how to love others. Where is there a safe place where the reality of death and dying is not real? There are many varied ways that take one’s life. No guarantee, no promise we will have a tomorrow in this life. So, we live daily with the fragility of life. Anyone of us can be the next one whose life can be snuffed out of existence into the pages of history to ebb away as did those before us.

The many tragedies and shooting sprees, such as the one in Aurora, at the Columbine High School, and in universities or places elsewhere have never been forgotten. Eventually, the horrific event just eases back into memory with all other past events as new issues come to the forefront. We move on. It is the sad part of life that we have to deal with in these times. And sadly too, new chaotic events will take its place. What do we learn from it? How is one to cope, or change their lifestyle to make themselves safer, avoid untimely death, and stay clear of a sniper’s bullets, the bullies, killers, the ‘boogey man’ in this world? One can’t. But, we can be ready to go out of this world and enter another one, a Heavenly one not of this world, not by contrast to the one we know here, but one that is real, waiting for us with our Father God if that time comes before we are ready. It is why I am prepared and thankful to be ready, if it should happen to me. Ready, or not, life happens. And ready or not death comes, to us all. There remains just one question. When? How?

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Posted July 31, 2012 by Joyce in Faith, Uncategorized, Writing

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Free to be ‘Me’

To be happy with yourself, allow your weakness to become your strength. In the natural this seems pretty illogical, if not impossible. In a world where perfection is expected, but seldom, if ever mastered, one can stress over their lack in areas where they feel they have been shorted in.  Our weaknesses can be so transparent that the world can see in us what God wants most to use.  It is in these areas where He can use us to bless someone needing what we can do. But, what is that?

This is something I often ponder over. That when I dwell on my weaknesses, always wishing I could do something better, or be someone I am not, I have to instead dwell on the truth that God does not create what He cannot use.  Rather, He is glorified  in creating one who reflects His image, not one who distorts it. There is no one who has ever lived that was without a purpose, or plan God had for him or her. But, it is the human nature we are born with to fall short in ways, and feel as if we have failed ourselves. It is when we reflect His image that the plan and purpose He ordained  in our lives can be perfected. In everyone there is a plan and purpose He set forth. Does one care to find it? Or, does that one wish instead to do their own thing, go their own way, and not care about reflecting the image He created us for?

I cannot speak for others, but only for myself that I am always a ‘work in progress,’ and have not finished even a ‘first draft’ of what it will look like, but God is not my ‘agent,’  ‘critic,’ or employer. He is my father, who is patient, loving and holds me in his palm. He will mold me, make me and create in me what He can use.  He does not stomp His feet, point His finger in disgust, swear profanities, or send down His wrath upon me for my disobedience or lack of consistency.  He allows me instead to choose my way, find my strengths, work on my weaknesses, and in the process reflect His image in a way that others will see Him. That might seem like an impossible project, striving to perfect His plan in/through me, but it is a freedom that frees me from performing, trying to be something or someone I am not, and I am free to be ‘me’.

Posted July 14, 2012 by Joyce in Devotional, Uncategorized, Writing

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Happy Memorial Day to our military, troops and veterans.

I wish all the veterans, military service men and women a very happy Memorial Day. The wars have been many, the cost of lives so great it is beyond count, the battles they fought to win and keep our freedoms innumerable. One day a year seems too few, or to short to stop and pay tribute to all they have done, and are still doing, but it is with gratitude on this one day that we can express our thanks to them all. When my husband and I turned eighteen in 1965 we became engaged and he registered for the draft as it was mandatory then during the peak years of the Vietnam War. With trepidation and anxiety the year passed, both of us working, planing and saving for our wedding in 1966. We had no way of knowing if or when he would be called up. He was registered and enrolled to begin seminary (a Bible College Institute) in California in the fall of 1966. On the day he checked back with his draft board and his paperwork to enter college he learned he was cleared and exempt, and not being called up  to serve. At the time we were thankful, but hopeful that one day after graduation from seminary he instead could help those in the service by serving himself as a chaplain. He graduated but did not go on to further and advance to his masters degree in theology to serve as a chaplain and has always been one of his regrets, but entered ministry all the same. My father served as a chaplain in the Air Force unit of the Civil Air Patrol as he was a pastor also, and served many years along side the Air Force in this service. But, whether we are civilians, military, veterans from past wars, we are all so grateful to all of our troops for their time and service to our country, to us all and to our freedoms. Thank you to all our military and veterans today. Our support, thoughts and prayers are with you all. God Bless you, and yours.

Posted May 28, 2012 by Joyce in Uncategorized

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LEAVING BEHIND A LEGACY

Leaving Behind a Legacy

No one has a monopoly on their tomorrows; only a down payment on their today.

Success will not be found on a game board, but in our ‘journey,’ down the road of

life.

If you had a premonition that you would not be around to reach your next

birthday, what would you do between now and then? What we do between our

first and last breath of life will determine the legacy we leave behind. What will

our legacy be after we are gone? Will it have impacted another life? Will it count

for something besides lost time? What changes would you make in your life? The

direction we take determines the legacy we leave behind for others. As a parent

and grandparent this is always something I think about. It is foremost in my

mind. What I leave behind for my children and grandchildren is not mere material

possessions, but things I hope have counted in my life worth real value, without

a price tag attached.

My teenage grandchildren (twins) graduate from high school this week. I think

back, remembering with a clear head, and good memory all the times I babysat

them since babies. There were happy days, sad days, busy or difficult, easy

or stressful; they were all days covered in prayer. But, watching them grow up

into young adults, ready to go out into the world with fresh ideas, unmet goals,

dreams not yet realized and questions unanswered leaves me thinking how

none of us have the answers to the questions in life. I certainly do not.

But, I know the One, Jesus Christ, who does have answers to everything, and will

walk beside them. I know He will lead them along paths straight and sure,

through valleys dark and deep, up steep mountains difficult, and treacherous, and

of course through pastures and fields where the journey is pleasant. I know He

will guide them when, or where they do not know the path to take and confusion

or uncertainty sets in somewhere, sometime. Because, as sure as a new day

comes there will be those times, and I can only pray and hope they will be ready

for the challenges that come their way, as they did for me when I was their

age. Without that hope, we are destined to succumb, or fail at whatever we are not

ready to cope with.

Here’s to you, Kristen and Chris, and to life, new challenges, experiences and

success, and to the rest of the Class of 2012, (high school or college) and to the

Hope they can have in Jesus, the ‘friend’ without a facebook page, but a book

written to His honor and glory, to the One who never changes, grows old with

time, leaves you, betrays you, or departs because He has another agenda, plan or

‘life’ to live.

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