Gallery of Paintings and Poetry

"The Village Church" oil on 16x20 linen panel
The Village Church
It’s a village church with a big heart - It’s a welcoming haven to all
It’s the Lord’s house – where we hear God’s word - It’s where we respond to the Lord’s call

His call to live his message of love - His call to share that love with others
To help the hurting - serve the needy - See each one as sister and brother

God, through Jesus, gave mercy to all - In gratitude, we now seek his face
Praise the Lord! Our sins are forgiven – And it is our turn to extend grace

We follow our God who commands faith - Yes, faith as small as a mustard seed
Can grow and flourish and change our lives - As we respond to each other’s needs

We pray God anoints our village church - May its ministry and favor grow
Through this church nestled in Leiper’s Fork, may God’s blessings and love always flow

Mary Carol Johnston
August 2019
Hillsboro United Methodist Church
Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee

He Planted Wildflowers for Me

He planted wildflowers for me
Sowing them above the rock wall
As I pass them on my travels
Their bright colors greet and enthrall

Purples and reds mixed among greens
Yellows and golds growing with ease
Pinks in assorted shapes and heights
Butterflies flitting in the breeze

Flowers tell their own true story
“Flourish and blossom, seeking child
Bask in the sun, love each other
And always encourage the wild”

~mcsj, 2019~

Let’s Do the Twist

Deep inside the Great Smokey Mountains
Right beside a winding country lane
There flows the Little Pigeon River
With tall trees lining its rocky banks

The water current – steady and strong
Washes away dirt, the tree’s lifeblood
With time, soil and rocks are swept away
Till the roots lie barren in the mud

But those roots are sturdy and steadfast
Anchoring the tree as they persist
They join and whisper to each other
“Come on, my old friends, let’s do the twist!”

~Mary Carol, 2019~

At the End of a Road in Tuscany

At the end of a road in Tuscany
Beside a neglected church made of stone
We found steps leading to an upper room
With tangled vines and moss overgrown

At first they appeared alone and forgotten
Abandoned - as seems often with the old
Yet peeking out from a tree at its side
Forsythia blooming in yellows and gold

Such is this life as our years increase
We often grow weary and battle worn
But off to the side, we look and we find
A new springtime waiting to be born

~Mary Carol, June 2019~

Henry the Cow

Henry’s standing in the pasture
Watching the farm with warm brown eyes
Chewing on the grass and clover
Mooing softly among his sighs

Henry’s passing time on the farm
Growing fat and content until
He is loaded on the trailer
And now he’s sizzling on the grill.

A Kiss Bouquet

A red kiss for love – alive, true, and strong
Hearts beating together – a vibrant love song

Silver is for time – a long life together
Standing solid – through storms and fair weather

A green kiss for change - renewing each day
Still familiar and warm – a “Kiss Bouquet”

My Mother’s Churches

My mother collects small churches, displayed on shelves and table tops
They’re gifts from friends and family, or treasures found in thrift shops

As a child, at her mill town church, when she was eleven years old
She gave her heart to Jesus, and was welcomed into God’s fold

She married and became a mother -  and, afterwards, a pastor’s wife
Serving churches in Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia - a big part of her life

Later, she became a widow - and studied to be a pastor herself
That’s when she got her first small church and lovingly placed it on the shelf

She was in church for baptisms and weddings, in church for potluck meals and preaching
In church for Sunday School and worship, in church for meetings and for teaching

It’s only fitting she collects churches – churches of ceramic, wood, or tin
Churches symbolize her life’s path, where she worked and where she’s been

The church collection, how it has grown!  It reflects the story of the sacred place
Where a woman we all know and love was “The Church” for others, by God’s grace

~Mary Carol Shaw Johnston, June 2018~

Leiper's Creek Baptism

Yesterday, a swimming hole
Today, a holy place
Into the muddy water
Steps a sinner seeking grace

Our God forgives and blesses
All sins are washed away
A child of God is redeemed
This glad baptism day

~mcsj, 2017~

 In Mother’s Arms

In Mother’s arms - Held close, held dear
In Mother’s arms - There is no fear. 

In Mother’s eyes - Beauty profound
In Mother’s eyes - Grace unbound

In Mother’s heart – love beating strong
In Mother’s heart - where you belong

The Eclipse Sunset

A picnic lunch and folding chairs
Set out in the middle of the day
Beside the Cumberland River
A solar eclipse was on the way.

Side by side we watched the show
Wearing glasses to protect our eyes
Talking, laughing, enjoying the day 
Staying focused on the skies

At last, the moment arrived
The moon totally blocked the sun
The sky mimicked a sunset
The corona in the heavens shone

Stillness and awe overcame us
As we watched the celestial display
“The heavens declare the glory of God”
Those words came to life that day


Two Sisters

Lily and Sophie - Two sisters running
Together in dress - Together in stride
Lily and Sophie - Two sisters loving
In step with each other – and side by side

Monhegan Island Light at Sunset

Since 1824 you've stood tall
Granite blocks atop the island hill
You've kept watch both near and far
In summer's heat and winter's chill

You give so much to others
Your gifts to the world are free
Beauty for artists and seekers
Safety for travelers at sea.

Oil on 11 x 14 Gessoboard

Flowers for Momma

You were a little boy picking flowers
A gift for me, your momma.
Multi-colored roses from our garden
Or dandelions clutched in your fist
Maybe wild daisies - a favorite
You'd hold them up to me and smile
"These are for you," you'd say
So much love wrapped up in blooms
Tender memories for this mother's heart.

Bear Creek Road Barn and Grass 

Old tobacco barn 
Falling into disrepair 
In a field of grass 

Blue Mountain Beach Sunset (Florida) 

Day’s end at the beach 
Burning sun in orange and gold 
Fire, sea, and clouds merge 

Yellow Roses on the Indian Springs Table 

Soft yellow roses 
On the camp meeting table 
In my mother’s house 

Franklin Island Light (Maine) 

Weathered yet steadfast 
The Maine sentinel stands tall 
Alone, keeping watch 

November Harvest
A trio of pumpkins
A quartet of lemons 
Orange and yellow and white
A cool weather vine
A warm climate tree
A sweet and a sour bite.

Baptism in Leiper’s Creek, #1 

In a muddy creek 
A soul repents; God blesses 
A new life begins 

Bailey Road Barn (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee) 

Along a backwoods road  
A barn, red and faded, 
Lies nestled among the trees 
Sunlight filters into the field beyond 
Country life in Leiper’s Fork 

Chickadee on a Branch 

Little Chickadee 
Looking out from the tall branch 
Surveying your world 

Bear Creek Road Barn 

Beyond the weathered fence  
The aging barn stands yet 
Its rusting roof and missing boards 
The barn’s secrets to forget 

Lily’s Angel 

You have a special angel 
Sent from God above. 
She’s always there beside you 
With comfort, hope, and love. 

No matter what you face 
Or how burdensome the road 
She’s with you every step 
To help you bear the load. 

God never promised “easy.” 
Life has many a trial and fall, 
But God and Lily’s angel 
Are with you through it all! 

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