Wednesday, November 26, 2014

CUDDLE BEAR COTTAGE

I guess it's a tradition if you do it 4 times? At our parish Christmas fair I search for something to write a story about.  It takes a little imagination when one writes backward from the object or the illustration!

By Great-Grandma “Bubi Lee” Leona Choy for Makenna Lee Humes on her Fourth birthday

Once upon a time a friendly bear family named “Cuddle” lived in the forest. This was not the bear family that Goldilocks visited in the story of the Three Bears. There were Four Bears in the Cuddle Bear family and they lived in a different forest neighborhood.

Papa Cuddle Bear and Mama Cuddle Bear had two little bear cubs. Little Girl Cuddle cub was about 4 years old and the other was a newborn baby cub still in a cradle.

Papa Cuddle Bear built a beautiful little house for them and made a sign above the front door. It said “CUDDLE BEAR COTTAGE.” They wrote the word “Welcome” on the door step. They wanted to invite all of the creatures who lived in the woods to visit them. But no one came. They were not sure if the bear family was friendly.

Papa Cuddle Bear climbed on a ladder and put a gold heart above the entrance to their house to show how much they really loved everyone. They wanted to give their visitors a big bear hug and invite them in. But no one came. They were not sure if the bear family was friendly.

The Cuddle Bear family even left the back door open in case visitors wanted to come in through that door. They put a heart with the word “LOVE” on the door so that visitors would know they would be loved even if they wanted to come in by the back door. But no one came. They were not sure if the bear family was friendly.

Mama Cuddle Bear loved flowers. She loved to plant them. She loved to smell them. She wanted to give her flowers to visitors who would come to their cottage. She loved to decorate their house inside and outside with flowers. She planted flower boxes under the windows of the cottage. They bloomed in different beautiful colors. She planted flowers all around the outside of the house. She even asked Papa Cuddle Bear to put flower-shaped windows in the roof. But no one came to visit them. They were not sure if the bear family was friendly.

“There is one more thing I want to try, Papa Cuddle Bear,” said Mama Cuddle Bear. “Please find a flower seed that will grow into a really BIG flower like the one Jack-in-the Beanstalk planted. Then everyone in the forest could see it. Then they would come to visit us.”

Papa Cuddle Bear looked in every flower shop in the woods and finally found the rare special seed that Mama Cuddle Bear wanted. The sales person promised that it was a magic seed. Mama Cuddle Bear was so happy and asked Papa Cuddle Bear to plant it at once at the outside corner of the cottage.

That night the Cuddle Bear family went to sleep, each cuddled in his cozy, warm bed. Newborn Baby Cuddle cub had warm blankets to cuddle under too. During the night it rained little pitter-patter rain drops on the roof but in the morning the warm sun shone brightly. The whole family hurried outside to see whether anything happened to the magic seed while Baby Cuddle cub was still sleeping.

SURPRISE! The magic seed had popped out of the ground and the green stalk grew up and up and UP until it was taller than Cuddle Bear Cottage! At the top was the most beautiful blossom that the Cuddle Bear family had ever seen. It opened up its petals like a tulip.
 
“Look!” said Little Girl Cuddle cub. “Friendly Bumble Bee has come to visit! She is perched on the top of the blossom!” Everyone looked up and sure enough there was Bumble Bee with her yellow and black stripes and big wings tasting the delicious pollen from the magic flower. The Cuddle Bear family was so happy that the very first visitor had found their cottage! Now she would buzz around and let the rest of the woodland creatures know that they should not be frightened to visit and were always welcome at Cuddle Bear Cottage.

And so it happened that Bumble Bee buzzed the good news everywhere she went. Almost all of the creatures in the forest came to visit the Cuddle Bear family day after day. They came to see for themselves the magic flower that grew at the corner of their cottage and to get a friendly bear hug. They found out that the Cuddle Bear family really loved them.

Inside Cuddle Bear Cottage Mama Cuddle Bear gave visitors a slice of homemade bread spread with peanut butter and honey, a favorite snack of Little Girl Cuddle Cub. And each time visitors left, Mama Cuddle Bear gave them flowers from her garden to take back to their homes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THE JOURNEY OF LIFE

This pithy statement is packed with challenging truth. However, I want to take the liberty of making it not politically correct, but spiritually correct. 

At times life does seem like a bumpy ride on an old steam engine train. Or sometimes we feel as if we are on a jet plane flight—life is going too fast and our ears are popping with the change of pressure. Or we may feel as if we are in a sail boat but our sail lies limp waiting for the wind. At other times we feel as if we are toiling at the rowing in a stormy sea. No analogies are perfect and they all have a spark of truth.

For sure our journey through life has as many ups and downs, highs and lows, as a see-saw. When we are in friendship with Jesus Christ and belong to Him, such fluctuations are not accidental or random but Divinely intentional. If we surrender willingly, joyfully to God's plan for our lives, we live under His loving Master control. "Goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives," as Psalm 23 affirms, but we may not recognize some of the pitfalls and pit stops as “goodness.” They may seem more like adversities to get us off track or at the very least like speed bumps to cause to us slow down and take stock of our life course.

Thanksgiving is one such helpful speed bump. But thanking God is not a “trick” as our little adage suggests. It is a Christian's lifestyle. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Yes, in everything—“delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts.” They are all in God's plan and working for our good to transform us into the image of Christ. It is all good, even when we don't like the track we are on or the visibility ahead is clouded.

Moreover, I don't believe the Lord only “intersperses occasionally” the “beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts” of joy, delight, and pleasure. He showers us with blessings! They are all around us if we open the ears and eyes of our hearts to hear and see them. God dropped one on me the other night when I opened my kitchen door and saw this awesome November sunset. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God...!” I thanked and praised Him for “letting me have the ride” of mortal life for so many years and to taste His goodness in the land of the living.

Thanksgiving is not just one day a year. Isn't it a lifestyle of offering thanks and joyful praise without ceasing to God who “gives us richly all things to enjoy”? 

How about meditating on, and perhaps reading together the five power-packed Thanksgiving verses of Psalm 100 before we sit down to overindulge on all the traditional festive fare beyond our body's needs.“Give thanks to Him, bless His name, for the Lord is good!”

Monday, November 24, 2014

PROXY HANDS OF GOD

Continuing excerpts from Chapter "Are we having fun yet?" from  Leona's book "HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS."
(I dedicate this selection to a number of my friends who will be going through a surgical adventure in the days ahead.)

I vaguely remember the brilliance of the overhead lights in the O.R. illuminating my motionless body strapped to the cold surgical table. The preparatory booklet for this surgical adventure said I might be aware of a clean smell, soft music, and people talking. Wait a minute! That could also describe heaven!

The medication in my veins floats me into total unconsciousness. For a fleeting moment I realize just how complete is my surrender to the procedures and the strangers who hold my life in their hands. Sounds recede. Faces blur, then disappear. I've slipped into neutral darkness where I have no dreams, no visions. I am suspended in nothingness without feelings. I'm unaware of what is being done to my human body.

Now I understand more fully what complete surrender to God means. My life is committed to the hands of my chief surgeon and his team. I'm at the mercy of their education, skill, experience, alertness, and judgment. Perhaps they are affected by what they had for breakfast and whether or not they are getting along with their spouses or significant others. They are only human beings like me. Although highly competent, they are fallible mortals!

I wouldn't trust them if I were not sure that I had angelic security guards who answer to the Great Physician. I'm counting on them to keep their eyes on those operators wearing scrubs who were arguing about last night's football game as they approached my gurney. But ultimately I have trusted myself to my infallible, almighty, all-knowing, totally loving, all-wise Creator God. He holds the keys to life and death, heaven and hell. He holds my life-breath in His hands.

They call the O.R. An “Operating Theater” for good reason—everyone gathers around to see the main attraction—me! The place is like an amphitheater, an arena, a stage. I'm exposed, displayed, on exhibit. It's a good thing that I'm totally “out to lunch.” I would be so embarrassed if I were aware of lying here so undignified, only partially covered. 

I do wear an unfashionable surgical “designer” cap, but I also wear a crown! In fact, it's a double crown. “He crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion” (Psalm 103:4). Other translations say that “to crown” means to beautify or dignify. I need that for sure! “Lovingkindness” is steadfast love, unfailing love, God's love. “Compassion” is also translated as tender mercies. I'm asking for a heaping portion of both of the above from the generous hand of my loving Lord! The surgical team, the medical technicians, the whole “crowd of witnesses” that “encompass me round about” don't see any crowns on my head, but I claim them, since God promised them. I know they are visible to Him.

My friends have been praying that my surgeon will be the proxy hands of God, an instrument to accomplish God's purpose for me. How thankful I am that he too is a child of God, a praying man! An author unknown penned the following words:

A Surgeon's Prayer
“Dear God:
These strong gloved fingers which I flex—this human hand which holds the knife, sterile now and steady, needs Thy guiding skill to help another's life. Put Thy hand on my hand. Bless now this patient—Thine and mine—who, under Thee, entrusts to me his precious life. God of the surgeon's tireless strength, the surgeon's finite skill, grant that I may guided be to do Thy will. Amen.”

I pray my own prayer in my deep unconscious state: 
“O continue Thy lovingkindness to those who know Thee, and Thy righteousness to the upright in heart” (Psalm 3:10). Lord, I'm not upright in body because I'm horizontal on the O.R. table. But my heart is upright toward You. I ask that You continue Your lovingkindness, prolong it, stretch it out, keep it going, lengthen it. I need Your intensive care here in the O.R. in this my hour of need. The crowns that You've given me may become a little lopsided during the long hours of surgery, but please see to it that my crowns don't fall off.”


(See below to order this book at the discount price during November.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

ORDER EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS!

  Leona Choy's new book arrived EARLY!!
The publisher beat his own deadline for printing!!!


I have the books in hand! So if you hurry, you can still take advantage until November 30 to order more copies for Christmas gifts
at the pre-publication discount of $11 plus $3.50 s/h for the new book just off the press:

STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT”

E-mail me leonachoy@gmail.com or phone me 540-877-1813
or cell phone 540-398-6611
to make sure you get under the wire for your discount.
You can follow later with your check.

After December 1 the price is still only $12.95 plus s/h!

Gift copies to others are an investment
in lives for eternity!

Please introduce Leona's entire set of LAND OF MORE Trilogy books
to your friends and family

Consider giving especially this new book
to those who are retired or retiring, to parents, to advancing-in-years
relatives, friends, neighbors and all who need 
spiritual encouragement
and challenge to live the chronological adventure
of their own “summit season” Christian journey.

The Lord of all seasons of our lives wants to be
Lord of our advanced years.
Our “summit years” can be our vintage season when
the best wine has been saved until last.”


Monday, November 17, 2014

ARE YOU MAD AT ME, GOD?

In a TV commercial for upgrading the contents of brown bag lunches for school children, a disappointed little boy examined the lunch his mother packed for him. He didn't like what he found. He whined, “Are you mad at me, Mommy?”

I take this illness personally. I can't help it. I feel as if I'm getting something distasteful. I am God's child, but I don't like what my Heavenly Father is giving me for lunch.

Since I'm a Christian, I believe God is involved in my life. So He must have designed this trial for me with my good in mind. I'm sure He isn't mad at me. It is also true that much suffering comes as a result of living in a flawed world among spiritually fallen people. Moreover, rebellious spirit beings are active on planet Earth. And some problems we even bring on ourselves. Some things are simply accidents. For others there seems to be no rational explanation; it lies in the mystery of God.

Why do we accuse God and get mad at Him at the first hint of trouble? We overlook all other causes and lay the blame directly on His doorstep. When things go well, God may be the last one to whom we give credit.

God doesn't do anything to His children from anger. I know that. If I find something in my life-lunch that doesn't suit my appetite, I'm sure He put it there for my spiritual nourishment. I wouldn't be spiritually healthy if I was the one responsible to pack my own life lunch. Nor would I be happy if God packed it daily with nothing but sweets. I wouldn't appreciate the sweets if they didn't contrast with some bitters of life.

If I could understand the reasons for my situation—the current reasons, the long-range ones, the ultimate reasons—I think I could more easily go through this trial.

Perhaps. But maybe not. Well, probably not.

If God showed me a completed, full-color and stereo “This is your life!” documentary, and I clearly knew where I'm headed and why, what would I do? If He showed me that my earthly road ahead is treacherous, I would probably dig in my heels and refuse to go on. If God lifted the veil and let me see that my future is packed with pleasure, I would be too impatient for it all to work out.

God doesn't owe me any explanation. I don't need to know, nor should I expect to understand right now where this seemingly unhappy segment I'm going through fits into His perfect plan. God's vantage point is eternal. What is happening to me right now is already past in His eternal view. I should trust God with what I don't see because of my human limitations of sight and insight.

God is not obligated to tell me what His purposes are or what part in them I should play. It pleases Him when I, as His created one, show faith and confidence in His ultimate plan. I can see only this day, this moment. It is enough for me to know that God is in control of everything.

Lord, give me the patience to trust You and hang on even if I can't find meaning in what I am going through. I don't want to mouth syrupy spiritual platitudes that haven't been worked out in the nitty-gritty of my life. Help me to be real.

(Excerpt from Leona's book HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS!) See below for discount price to order this book during November, and receive the bonus book with it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

BEING HONEST TO GOD


Everything hinges on my positive response to any calamitous situation, but my halo is askew. I don't always have bright, shiny, positive responses to what God is doing in my life. Not even most of the time. Dark, negative thoughts lurk in the shadowy corners of my mind, and I can't seem to muster up the strength to take the broom of faith and sweep them out.

Those negative thoughts are not meek and quiet creatures. To my embarrassment, they are loud and brash. They even yell at God. But I know God will not give up on me even when pain squeezes negative complaints from me toward Him. I believe God wants me to express honest thoughts and feelings to Him rather than hide behind pious expressions that I speak hypocritically. It doesn't matter what people expect or what I expect of myself. I need to be honest with God.

Stephen W. Brown suggests in his book, When Your Rope Breaks:
“If you are angry and hurt...tell God the truth. He might be the only Person in the world who can absorb everything you hand Him, understand why you do it, and still love you. Too often, when our ropes have broken, our prayers become spiritual nonsense. If we would stop talking nonsense for a moment, God might say to us, 'Come off it! Tell me what you really think.' Once we believers understand that God can handle our honesty, the broken ropes don't seem as bad as they seemed before.”

I don't think God will send a bolt of lightning to zap me if I tell Him how I really feel. If I can't be honest with Him, I can't be honest with anyone. Besides, since He knows everything anyway, even my thoughts, He already knows how I feel. I guess I vent my feelings to Him mostly for my own benefit. So here it goes:

God, I'm hurt because You let this happen to me when I thought I was walking in Your ways.
I'm confused because You didn't let me know sooner that You were going to set aside my plans. Why did You let me go to the last minute? I did consult You about my plans.
I'm disappointed because I don't think I deserve to go through this affliction.
I'm puzzled because I don't know what You are after in my life.
I'm jealous of others who disregard You yet they aren't suffering or ill. You don't seem to be giving them a hard time.
I feel that You abandoned me because You are silent when I ask You questions. Now is the time I most need to hear from You!
I don't feel a bit spiritual. I feel like pouting and crying. If I told you otherwise, God, I'd be lying, and I don't think You'd like that.
Truly, I'm scared. Scared to death!
There—I've let it all hang out.

The air is clearer between us. I still don't hear any answers from You, nor do I see any handwriting on the wall, but I know in my heart of hearts that You do love me. The universe doesn't really revolve around me—You are the center, and I'm just glad that Your big sovereign plan is in action.
****
(Excerpt from the chapter “Jumping Over Hurdles” in HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS!
See discount offer below to order this book during NOVEMBER and the FREE bonus book that accompanies it.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

READY, SET, GO!

The nurse instructed me to stuff my street clothes and shoes into what looked like a white garbage bag provided by the hospital. I wondered, Will I ever wear my clothes again?

“Ready?” she asked cheerfully from outside the curtain.

I took a deep breath, pulled aside the curtain, and emerged from my preparatory cubicle for better or worse. I stood unsteady in my terry cloth slippers with rubber soles. No way am I ready for what is coming!

Likewise, I will stand before God, my Creator and Judge, on that Final Reckoning Day. I blink. What if it is today? For that event I should be ready. My gown on That Day will also be provided. That garment won't have pockets either. I'll leave everything behind. “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me. O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

I'll either be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, my Redeemer, or I'll be spiritually naked, without covering. That garment can't be earned or deserved, and I can't buy it at the door. It is made of clean, white linen, and I have to reserve it in advance. The garment God gives to those who belong to Him has a “whosoever” designer label, and one size fits all.

I wrote this book from the viewpoint of my Christian faith. I believe my loving Heavenly Father planned my hospital adventure on purpose. It wasn't a random happening. Although it appeared negative and harmful and painful to my mortal body, God intended it for my spiritual growth and for His glory. I certainly didn't ask for it or thought I needed it; apparently the Lord thought I did.

Without personal faith in Jesus Christ I would be afraid to go through any illness or march into any hospital adventure. In fact, to live day by day without being “in Christ” is to take unnecessary eternal risks. A life without faith in God is hazardous to the health of both our soul and body. We don't need to walk through illness or anywhere else alone. God is with us on life's journey and that includes our trip on the gurney as we are wheeled into the O.R.
****
An excerpt from HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS!
See below to order this book at the special discount and receive a FREE bonus book.