Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Tag

Change

Change is not something I do well. My old ‘routine’, or to put it more aptly my personal agenda was like wearing a comfortable, favorite pair of old shoes or blue jeans. But, even a new pair of shoes or blue jeans has to be broken in until softer and loose enough to easily slip on.

But change is what my past year has been like since making some tough decisions in my life, good or bad. And when those changes come with a new name, address, relocation and relationships and all that goes with it there comes with it a time to stop and rethink priorities, goals for the future, and focus on what is immediate and most important; things that must be dealt with here and now.

There have been many who wondered, questioned or just stood by and prayed while I and my husband went through a divorce this last summer, and a broken marriage after fifty-two years together. The serious mental illness and suicide attempts my husband suffered through 2017 and  2018  became more than I could handle physically, mentally and emotionally. I had to make a decision that was not only very difficult, but I knew things would never be the same for us again. When I filed for divorce and we put our house and properties we owned jointly up for sale other things followed that made it harder to bear as the months went by. My husband became unpredictable, with varied mood swings and personality changes that shocked everyone who knew him, and frightened those of us who once loved him; our two daughters, our grandchildren, family and friends, and myself included.

When he started buying up and carrying around guns, deliberately threatening the lives of others and demonstrating a delusional, hallucinating mind and personality that conjured up stories we knew were not true, driving around with reckless abandonment, and pursuing women on internet match sites I knew I could not stay married to a man I hardly knew anymore.  I had to put my life and future at the forefront, find a new place to live and put my trust in an unfailing God who I knew would never leave, or forsake me. I knew God would walk with me through the shadow of dispelling darkness and despair I felt engulfed in, though at times I wondered if I would ever find my way through it. But, I was not alone. I had the support and prayers of friends and family, who knew the struggle I was going through.

During the months following he committed a serious crime, and the felony landed him in jail. He faced court hearings, convictions, a possible prison sentence, and numerous months of mental and psychic evaluations. For months I was angry, deeply hurt and resentful of all that he had put me through. But, deep down I knew he was a very sick man, that something had claimed his mind and soul causing his problems or contributing to all that he’d done. The many medications he took were adjusted and one by one each possible diagnosis came back unconfirmed. Things would never be the same for him. As for me, I was determined to grow through the experience and become the person God was shaping me to be. But, I knew I would need to make changes in my own personal agenda and reset my priorities. There would be no comfortable routine.

In Philippians 3:13 & 14 the apostle Paul speaks of his own experience; “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” NIV I hung onto that hope that God was working in my life and I believed He would do a work in my husband’s life as well, that one day he would be healed and made whole again.

There will always be many unanswered questions as to why and how one could change so much that no one recognized him anymore. After the divorce and the sale of our home I set out on my own to relocate, buy another house in another state, and took a long break from blogging and social media sites. I have now taken back my maiden name of Mannhalter and though it is becoming once again more familiar and comfortable like my old sneakers and blue jeans when signing my name I will remember forever the fifty-two years I had with the once wonderful, giving, loving man I married when I was Joyce E. Johnson.

Joyce E. Mannhalter (October 2018)

 

Posted October 12, 2018 by Joyce in blogging, Faith, My Writings

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If I Could Behold


If I could behold scarred hands and face

and feet where nails pierced through were placed

I would ask, “How could you love me so very much,

to carry the weight of my sins to the cross,

and die that I might have new life

while suffering such an agonizing sorrowful death?”

But, he replied with scarred hands to my face

and with eyes reflecting the tears in my own,

“You see my child, there will be times

when you will suffer your own pain and loss,

and I will be there to comfort you.

I’ll not forsake you. You’ll not be alone.”

It is what I know He does for me now,

enfolding me in His arms of grace.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

There are times when we need an unshakable trust in the Savior to get us through turbulent storms in life, when we don’t know what to do, and need His comfort and grace. But, He is there, always, and hears our every prayer, and knows our every need. In John 20:29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And, in II Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” NIV 

JEJ


Enjoy today; worry not about tomorrow

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV

I have always had a problem worrying over things I dreaded, things that could not be avoided like a dental appointment, a medical procedure, or having to drive somewhere where I didn’t want to go, taking me out of my comfort zone. I worried about getting lost, being alone in a crowd of people I didn’t know, getting in a bad car accident. You name it; the list of dreaded things I could not avoid would grow and increased my anxiety to a point that what I was really feeling was out-right fear, the fear of tomorrow, the fear of the unknown.

Worrying over our tomorrows takes our focus off what is important today, and steals the joy that God has for us. What God wants to do for us today, in us, or through us the devil wants to steal. When tomorrow comes we may have regret that we did not put more effort into making our yesterday the best it could have been. Even the memory of it might not be a happy one. Experiencing the joy of today enables us to not fear or worry about tomorrow. Fear sucks the joy right out of our very soul. It can cripple us from walking (daily) in the spirit.

I realized that more than the things I dreaded tomorrow was the inability to appreciate what I have today, an opportunity to make it my best day, to live in the moment and not dwell on what would come in its own time. Learning to take one day at a time even when there are things I knew were coming did not have to steal my attention off of today. For this day I choose to make it my best day, and be hopeful, expectant that whatever today brings I will rejoice and be glad in it because I know that God has all in His hands, and I know He has all my tomorrows as well.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

Posted February 28, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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The Promised Rock

 

 “Lady, do you want a pretty rock? I got pretty rocks. It just costs a nickel.”

The little red-haired, freckled boy stood outside my front door with a hopeful, expectant look. I didn’t think he could be over five years old. I smiled and said. “Sure. I’d love a pretty rock. Can I pick one out?”

 “No, I have to go get it. I will be right back.” Then he ran off down the street.

I went to get my nickel, then waited a few minutes at the door to see if he would return. He did. Running up to my door again, he held out his hand and a small, white, triangular-shaped rock lay in his palm. We made the exchange.

I said, “Thank you. That is a pretty rock.” Then he took off. As I watched him run back down the street I smiled and wondered if the little entrepreneur went looking  for another who might buy one of his rocks. There is nothing in particular about this little rock that stood out as anything special. But, it reminded me of the story in Matthew in the New Testament about John the Baptist who came as the forerunner telling all he met that God was sending the Son of God, the prophesied Savior. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

Christ came as the promised rock, the One whom we could place our trust  in and build our foundation upon. All that He asks from us in exchange for this gift of eternal life is to believe in Him, seeking forgiveness for our sins.

Jesus never demanded attention, did not dress to stand out in a crowd, or use other means to draw people unto Him. Yet, His love and compassion compelled people to come to Him. He stood out among the masses while doing what his father sent Him to do; loving all unconditionally, healing the sick, ministering to the poor, the hurting and brokenhearted, teaching grace and forgiveness. He came to fulfill the will of his father, to be the sacrificed lamb, the ‘promised rock’ of salvation. There is no way to the Father except through Jesus Christ, His son.

“The Lord is my rock and my salvation.” Psalm 18:2

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

A Time to Plant

I ask the Lord

What is it You want of me to do?

Is it the season in my life for new seed?

To break new soil and prepare to plant,

or the time just to nurture that which grows?

And to God, I’ll say, “I’ll do it later, just not today.”

But, if tomorrow doesn’t come

and all I have is remorse and regret

that I took not the time to plant those seeds

and nurture your garden, and it turn to weeds,

for the harvest is great, and cannot wait,

I gave it no attention; it cries out and pleads

for there were times when I just turned away

and said, “Let another plant that seed,”

and I turned not my heart to that one in need.

But God now I ask, “Give me this day,

this moment, this season, this time, and a way

that I might find in one new soil I pray,

to plant the seed of love in one

that becomes a part of the harvest to come

in a new time and season nurturing me.

______________________

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: vs. 2…a time to plant and a time to uproot…” NIV This is one of my favorite scriptures in the Old Testament and the inspiration for the poem above. There is always a season and time to plant good seeds and reap a harvest of good fruit sewn. I Cor. 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

The Dawning of a New Year


So long 2017, Hello 2018

As 2017 draws to a close, I am thankful and look forward to welcoming the new year in 2018. 2017 was a very difficult year for me and my family. But, it was also a year where I saw God do a miraculous work of healing and forgiveness, faith and restoration in our lives that only comes in knowing Him and having a personal relationship with His son, Jesus, the King of Kings born to the world so that all would come, seeking Him.

As we enter into this new year I choose not to dwell on those things that tested my faith and weakened my resolve when I went through those times in 2017, but instead the moment I have now.

I am learning what it means to have an ‘unshakable trust’ in God where we come to a place of complete surrender, relying on Him in every situation we find ourselves in. When I relinquish all my worries and fears over to Him my burdens are lifted. Giving Him all that we have no control over, or answers for frees us from the worry and stress, or searching for ways to deal with whatever we face in life. It is about letting go of our hang-ups, our problems so that He can do His work in our lives. I choose to not dwell on the past, upon mistakes made or regrets for things that did not work according to my plan. But, instead live for this moment now, with Him. I am not concerned about pushing my agenda or making ‘new year’s resolutions’ or lists for tentative plans for my future as I might fail, and things work out differently. With God I know all things work according to His plan and His will when I just trust him with that kind of unshakable trust. In Jeremiah 29:11, it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV

I want to personally thank all the readers, bloggers and followers who have visited my blog site this year and I hope something you have read or seen here has inspired you, blessed you or entertained you. It has been a pleasure and joy interacting via WordPress with you all.

Happy New Year to all.

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)


Posted December 31, 2017 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Faith, My Writings

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Just one day at a time

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (New Testament Bible), NIV.  Those were the words of Jesus as he spoke them aloud to his disciples and the throngs of people up on the mountain top who came to hear him speak when he began his ministry. If we are honest with ourselves and God we all can relate to this.

When I first drafted this post it was way back in March of this year before I went on a trip to Hawaii, and weeks before my life took a drastic turnaround from the more normal days I was experiencing. Little did I know that a few months later into the summer I would go through a personal crisis that set me back. See the post and story here. Before that time I would just go about my days with the same routine, enjoying time and seclusion at my computer, writing, looking for some new inspiration, working on writing projects. Then something happened to disrupt it all. When I came back to this post to read or revise it, it seemed almost prophetic, to what I felt and what happened later.

There are times when we need to take stock of what we’re doing, hit the ‘reset’ button, rethink our priorities. Sometimes it means being ready for the immediate and the unexpected that ultimately determines what is most important, putting aside everything else, indefinitely.

I have learned it is best to live one day at a time, to make it the best I can, maybe even better than the day before. Then I am not disappointed in myself, but instead encouraged by what I’ve done that day and ready for the next day. I’m not against making plans and setting goals, but I do so with reserve that something could happen that might change it, or set it back. I don’t set my sights on tomorrow if I am not yet finished with today.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Posted October 27, 2017 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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