Thursday, July 30, 2015

THREE IN ONE--NEW BOOK RELEASE!

HOT OFF THE PRESS!
 The collected writings of CHRISTIANA TSAI, all three of her books, are now available in one new book with an attractive cover of artistic quality!

Available either in Chinese or  English versions and packed with photographs and art work, this 446 page book is available at the unbelievable low price of $15. See below for ordering information from the publisher, AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, INC.

I highly recommend this firsthand missionary biography as a cross-generational and cross-cultural page turner that is sure to appeal to readers of any age. It is a first person account of faithful missionary work in China in the early years and in the beginnings of preaching and witness involvement by Chinese believers themselves. Christiana Tsai was a beloved and noted pioneer in this endeavor, one of the first Chinese women to receive a Western education.


"But it's not your book, Leona, is it? Your name isn't on the cover..." 

No, and it shouldn't be. However, it was my great joy and privilege to be the "ghost writer" to collaborate with Christiana on two of the three books in this new publication.

How did that work? Christiana asked me to "write in her voice and style" as she recollected and shared with me what she wanted to convey to readers as her witness for the Lord. Because we wrote her books first in English which was Christiana's second language, they were translated only later into Chinese. She was a loving but merciless and meticulous editor (perfectionist!) insisting that we literally "pray and weigh" each sentence until she was satisfied that it was the best way to express it. I would bring her draft after draft for editing, some of the writing still in pre-computer days. That experience was invaluable to launch me into my own writing career!
 
The first book in this collection, the flagship book QUEEN OF THE DARK CHAMBER, chronicled her life from her birth in 1890 to 1949 at which time she fled the war and chaos in China with her lifelong friend and missionary, "China Mary" Leaman whom she called her godmother. Christiana would live the rest of her life in the historic Leaman homestead in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Published in 1953, that book was written "as told to" by Ellen Drummond, a missionary friend who knew Christiana in China and witnessed many of the events firsthand.

Billy Graham personally recommended her book: "In her furnace of affliction Miss Tsai has discovered the secret of spiritual refining. In her dark chamber of infirmity she has found the Light of the world."

I assisted her in writing the second book in this collection, a chronological sequel, which the publisher simply titled CHRISTIANA TSAI. We worked in her darkened bedroom necessitated by her illness which confined her to bed for nearly fifty years. She narrated the happenings from 1949 until her death in 1984 even while the continuing drama of her life and exciting ministry was still unfolding.

It was at that time that the Leaman family and Christiana deeded their farmland property to AFC for their headquarters and expanding ministry among Chinese students and professionals on university campuses in North America and abroad.

In the third book in this volume, JEWELS FROM THE QUEEN, Christiana asked me to compile short illustrations from the many messages she preached from her bed as a pulpit. A flood of people from all over the world sought her out after they read her first book which was translated into dozens of languages including Braille.

 I truly believe that when you read this book it will touch your heart and inspire you to greater trust in God. You will want copies for your family and friends and church library and to recommend to your book club.

TO ORDER THE BOOK
 
Order directly from the publisher: Go to www.afcinc.org. Click on "Bookstore." Proceed to "AFC Published Items." Click on the cover pictured above. (Be sure it is in English, if that is the language you want.) Follow ordering instructions.

I have a bonus SURPRISE!

 I produced a CD on which I read aloud 8 chapters of this book as an "appetizer" introduction with Chinese musical interludes. I read verbatim from pp. 177 to 219. I am sure this will enhance your appreciation and jump-start you into Christiana's story as it unfolds.

Order the CD from me by email: leonachoy@gmail.com. It is available for a donation of any amount to cover costs of production and postage. Whether emailing a request or using the Donate button, please provide your mailing address. Make your check payable to me at P.O. Box 2697, Winchester, VA 22604. Or to expedite receiving your CD you can use your credit card via Paypal by clicking here:
Note: You do not need a Paypal account in order to donate.
 

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A NEW HAPPY DANCE


Lord God spoke to Dancing Instructor Angel, handing him a new assignment. 

"The time has come for those who trust in Me on Planet Earth to learn the steps to a new happy dance. I want you to teach them to leap and whirl around and turn cartwheels with joy and hilarious celebration!”

“Oh, that's so exciting, Lord God! What is the occasion? Are they going to have some 'welcome home' festivities for the return of a prodigal son?”

“That party is already going on day and night because many prodigals on Earth are returning to My House. Always there is joy in Heaven with angels rejoicing and singing and dancing because they see what my children on Earth are doing. But that's not the reason I'm assigning you to teach them to sing and dance a new dance.”

“Did the shepherd find his one lost sheep? Or the woman find the coin she lost? Is that why they are to dance?”

Both found what they were looking for and then called their friends and neighbors together for a big party. But that's still not the reason I want you to teach them a happy dance and be ecstatic with joy,” replied Lord God.

“Is it time then for Your Son to 'descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God'? Are we going to rehearse the dance we will have with those who rise in the glorious resurrection and with the living ones who will join in the jubilation?”

“That time has not yet come, but it's in My eternal schedule. We will not rehearse that glorious event. It will come suddenly like a thief in the night.”

“Well then, Lord God, You are always generously blessing Your children with bountiful goodness and mercy all the days of their lives. They must have tons of blessings to celebrate. Is that why you are sending me to teach them a new dance?”

“It is good to 'come before me with joyful singing and to enter My gates with thanksgiving and My courts with praise.' But I have a special season of time for which they will need to be prepared. It is for that occasion I want you to teach them a new song and a happy dance to the accompaniment of stringed instruments."

“Oh Lord God, I can hardly wait! What are the words to the music that is to be played for the dance that I will teach them?”

“Listen carefully then: 'Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls....'

“Oh Lord God! Those can't be the right words to sing with joy. Were such things to happen it would be utter disaster, catastrophe, total calamity! How could such words accompany a happy dance? The music would be a dirge—a funeral song, a mournful lament!"

“Dancing Instructor Angel, it is my faithful servant Habakkuk who wrote the words of the song and the steps to the happy dance that should accompany it. Although total devastation faced his nation and enemy invaders were storming in over its borders to devour and lay waste the entire land and slay the people, and though he trembled with distress and his lips quivered, he waited on Me and trusted in My providence.”

“But Lord God, that was worst case scenario! Habakkuk said that violence and bloodshed were sweeping over the land and wickedness, strife, and contention were everywhere. Laws were disregarded, justice was never upheld, and the wicked surrounded the righteous breathing threats. The whole economy of that day was collapsing! He described horrible things in his book!”

“Not unlike conditions for my children today. Listen to My servant Habakkuk so you can teach My people in distress how to sing and dance with holy joy even when facing their worst nightmare—personal or national:

'Yet I will *exult in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.'

“I am silent before You, Lord God. I don't understand how Your people can sing and dance under such dire circumstances, but I bow before You because I know You are always working all things for good.” 

“I AM working on the eternal picture. I have the nations and their leaders and My people in My hands. In My omnipotent wisdom and loving judgment, I may even have to resort to using godless nations as rods of chastisement for a blessed and favored nation that forgets Me and insists on going its own way.”

“I will do Your bidding, Lord God. I will teach Your children to dance a happy dance with holy joy no matter what befalls them. Your plans for them are for their welfare and not for calamity to give them a future and a hope!

And so it was that Dancing Instructor Angel fulfilled his assignment faithfully. Sounds of music and happy dancing echoed over the hills and valleys and from sea to shining sea of the Land called Beautiful for Spacious Skies. Behold, those who trusted in Lord God whirled about in joyful celebration and praise to Him despite the collapse and chaos and calamity around them. 

 
"Let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and mayest Thou shelter them, that those who love Thy Name may exult in Thee. For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O Lord. Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield" (Psalm 5:11, 12).
****

*Various versions of the Bible translate the word “exult” as:
 "rejoice, be glad, shout loudly, take great delight, sing a song of holy joy, sing a happy song, sing loudly, celebrate, rejoice with great happiness, engage in hilarious activity, jump about, truly find joy in, triumph in, proclaim victory, turn cartwheels of joy, whirl around in a dance, be ecstatic about."

Background selections from the entire book of Habakkuk. Especially 3:17-19. Also Luke 15:1-32; 1 Thess. 5:1-11; 4:13-18; Psalm 100; Rom. 8:28; Phil. 3:1; 4:4; Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Monday, July 27, 2015

STRAW AND THE CAMEL'S BACK

And now THIS...? Enough already, God. That's the last straw!”

There are times when enough is not only enough but too much! We can't bear one more thing. And then that “one more thing” still happens or happens again. 

It's been one thing after another to weigh us down. Trials on top of trials. Setbacks and obstacles and a multitude of problems. Troubles are compounded. It seems as if “Murphy's Law” is our motto: “Anything that can go wrong does go wrong.” We are literally at our wits' end.

And now one more thing? That's the last straw!

One straw is not heavy in itself. Certainly one can hardly feel the weight of one straw. But bales of hay and straw are becoming heavier and harder to handle. And then comes one more trial, one more test, one more affliction, one more hardship, one more problem, one more adversity—and it feels like it's finally the last straw to break our patience and crush us. We have every reason to give up, to despair. That's the end!

Is it God who is trying to weigh us down, to pile adversity upon adversity to see how much we can take without caving in? Is He so cruel and sadistic to burden us with more than we can bear? Not according to 1 Corinthians 10:13 (GNT. “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” What is there about that promise that we don't understand?

God is working on us and through our circumstances for our good although it may not seem that way to us. That includes illness, relationships, finances, mental anguish, economic collapse—anything and everything. There is a purpose in all things. Nothing is happenstance. Through these afflictions we are being changed and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. They may feel abrasive and hurtful but we are being lovingly polished in God's finishing school. What we look upon as reversals or obstacles or closed doors may simply be His redirection to a better way.

What we are going through is exactly that—something we are going through. We will come out on the other side. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and that Light is Jesus and He is working out His perfect will for our lives. Life is a journey, an on-going trek through the wilderness. It is a process and we are pilgrims. We are sojourners; this world is not our Home; we are just traveling through. We are not experiencing a dead-end worst case scenario no matter how it feels or looks. There is no such thing as “a last straw.”


In Psalm 107, subtitled “The Lord delivers man from manifold troubles,” King David the musician and songwriter goes all out to list (if I count correctly) twenty-eight negative things that came against God's people one after the other and how God saw them through, It chronicles how He “guided them to their safe haven” after all the hardships that befell them. Take a listen to their dark list of adversity experiences—talk about hardships and misfortunes!

“Adversities, hunger, thirst, fainting, trouble, distresses, darkness, shadow of death, misery, chains, labors, stumbling, helpless, bands, gates of bronze, bars of iron, affliction, loss of appetite, gates of death, destruction, at wits' end, in the wilderness, in salt waste, in dry land, diminished, bowed down, oppressed, in sorrow.”

Any one of these could have been the straw that would break the camel's back and cause them permanent despair. How does the Psalm begin? “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.” What does the author exclaim half way through the above litany of bad stuff? “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness...let them extol Him...and praise Him.” How does the psalm-song end? “Consider the lovingkindness of the Lord!”

Maybe such things are happening to you? Do you have your own long litany of adversities? Are you experiencing “a last straw episode?” Can you look at your “last straw” and say, “Thanks, Lord, I needed that”? Well, maybe you can't even whisper that right now. But you will later.

Take a bulldog grip on that First Corinthians promise and tell that depressed camel to get up off the desert sand. It's back is not broken--and neither is yours! 

 Climb up on its hump and go forward in the strength of the Lord and in the power of His might!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ANTICIPATION!

That's the first word I thought of when I saw my great-granddaughter Makenna's sparkling eyes focused on the coveted cupcake.

No matter what our age, ANTICIPATION is the spark to ignite our get-up-and-go and it also provides the energy to do so. Lack of anticipation, nothing to look forward to in our lives, spells depression and gives us a downward shove. If we settle for the same old-same old and wake up in the morning without the expectation that today may bring something good from the hand of God, our passive negativity will take over our lives like the weeds in an untended garden.

My neighbors, Doug and Linda, who joined our delightful family party for my 90th birthday, said they searched amazon.com for a gift book specific to the occasion, something that had the number 90 on it. The only one they could find was a Scholastic children's pictorial with text and art work on the pre-teen level. They gifted me with the book, “NOTHING EVER HAPPENS ON 90TH STREET.” 


They just knew I would accept the challenge of doing something interesting with the story of Eva, a youthful wannabe writer whose teacher told her, “Write about what you know.” But the young girl keeps scribbling in her notebook, “Nothing ever happens on 90th Street.”

But it turned out that when she anticipated that something surprising could and would happen if she invested something of herself into the lives of each of the neighbors on her street, it would have a domino effect.

And that's exactly what happened! It changed the dynamic of each of their lives and gave her more than enough to write about. I know my neighbors are chuckling to themselves that they knew I would use their book in some way for a blog post!

Anticipation is so critical to our well-being physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We are created to look forward, to set goals, to press on, to keep on keeping on even when aging comes upon us and we feel as if we are losing ground. 

Anticipation faces outward; it doesn't focus inwardly on ourselves and our human condition. Anticipation looks beyond what is, to what could be. Anticipation requires our cooperation to invest in others through care and prayer and interest in more than oneself and our own circumstances. Anticipation changes us, and our attitude in turn changes others.

GOD PROVIDES US WITH ANTICIPATION. He knows we need it. He has put within us a forward-looking spirit that stretches toward tomorrow and beyond. He has created us to anticipate dwelling with Him for Eternity. We are not born to live permanently on this earth in our “earth suits.” He has given us sure promises of what is to come, cupcake glimpses of what He has prepared for us. It is beyond our finite understanding. 

Nevertheless, He surprises us with little serendipities here and there that reflect His goodness, remind us that we are only pilgrims here, and whet our appetite for Heaven. Jesus' promise, “I go to prepare a place for you, and...I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” causes us to stand on tiptoes of anticipation as we reach to understand His meaning. 

Meanwhile, let us anticipate what we can do on “our own 90th street” to lift up our neighbors and friends and family to consider eternal matters. God has planted us to grow where we are and to reach out to those around us. We can make something happen on our particular 90th street to alert our friends to look with us in anticipation beyond the mundane of life, beyond the unremarkable, ordinary routine to the Sonrise that awaits us upon Jesus' promised return!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LIVING B.C. AND LIVING A.D.



Fill in the “B.C.” blank with whatever has made you aware of your mortality: Before Cancer? Before Chronic illness? Before you faced up to Aging? Before your Accident? Before you became Widowed? Before whatever Life Catastrophe came upon you?

Think of “A.D.” as: After Diagnosis, or After your Life Disorder or Disaster, or after whatever tap on the shoulder you received from God.

At this present time I have four friends who suddenly were diagnosed with cancer and are suffering a stormy sea episode in their lives. So I went online to find out more about their illnesses and their prognosis. In the process of my search for the physical aspects, I came across a gem of an article on the Internet titled, “What Matters More NOW?” 

The following quotes from real people gave me a glimpse of what has become more important to them now that they are in an “A.D.” position, and what they have put on the back burner as a result. 
 
“...I want to spend what time I have left doing what I believe is important. Taking care of my health and spending time with family are my highest priorities. I have no qualms about saying no to an activity or task if I need more rest, or if my family wants to do something together. Living up to others’ expectations of me and worrying about failure are no longer important...”

“...What is more important to me now is to be kind to myself and others. Less important to me is anything that causes me undue stress. I quit my job when I received this diagnosis because of how stressful and unhappy it made me. Research tells us that stress can depress the immune system, and I believe it is a cancer-driver....”

“...My family, friends, and life's experiences are so very important to me now. I want to savor every moment that I can, the big things and the little things. What is less important is drama and things that just suck your energy uselessly. Having possessions is less important to me — unless those things contribute to adding to adventures and experiences with my husband and friends....” 

“...Seriously living my life is more important to me now. I think, before cancer — before I realized my own mortality — I seemed to just go through the motions of life. I was letting life's activities push me. As a busy mom it's easy to do. I'm curbing my tendency toward perfectionism. Now I'm much more interested in experiences than 'to do' lists. I'm in this mindset of 'You never know how long you'll be here, so let's do it!' Less important is what anyone thinks of me....”

“...I used to work a lot. I really loved my job so I worked long hours. There’s always more to do. In fact, I often put work first. I don't do that anymore. Instead I'm really focusing on my health and my relationships. I eat well, exercise, and tend my garden. I spend quality time with my husband, family, and friends. I travel as much as I can because there’s so much beauty in the world, from the great museums to natural wonders, unfamiliar streets, and new people. Now is my time to live and live well. I've finally discovered what is important to me....” 

Their comments gave me pause to examine myself, the season of life in which I am living, and my own circumstances. In fact, I have experienced most of the above “B.C.s” including being a cancer survivor. Most recently I was involved in an auto accident that, had it happened a split second later, might have cost me my life. I'm a widow, I have certain chronic health issues, I just turned 90, and life seems to hold one stress, distress, and challenge after another.

Whatever our unique circumstances, how then shall we live “A.D.”? What is God saying to us through our particular tap on the shoulder?

On the other hand, perhaps our “B.C. life” is smooth sailing at the moment. Nothing is rocking our boat. Our sea is calm and we don't see any storms on the horizon. 

We are in good health without any traumas. We may feel that we are invulnerable and immortal. That we are indispensable and so essential to God's grand plan that He wouldn't let anything go wrong for us. Not so. A lot of disorders and happenings are possible and probable and inevitable while we live out our lives in our “earth suits.” God controls our life breath. Rest assured that because we are human with a limited span of life there will be negative events and adversities down the line to try us. 

If we are on a placid sea just now, let's take advantage of our present serene slice of life to discern wisely in advance what should be important in life to us and in God's eternal plan. Let's not wait for some cataclysmic event to shake us up and thrust us into suddenly and drastically having to change our way of life because we are in an “A.D.” state. Shouldn't we adjust our compass now?


WITHOUT ME
Leona Choy

Without me, Lord, could life go on?
Would the world still turn
and work get done?
Without me, Lord, could they walk
by themselves
who are leaning on my arm?
Would they be kept from harm?
Without me, could You still work?

Who am I to think
that I'm the hub
around which the world turns
and all spokes lead to me?
God is not obliged to work
only through my earthen vessel
my created lump of clay
with numbered days
and faltering ways.

With me or without me
His purpose He'll fulfill.
I'm amazed that He stoops to choose
and sovereignly use
this human trifle
as an instrument
to do His will!

Lord, cause me to understand
my dispensability
my frailty
and still offer You
my availability.



Friday, July 17, 2015

Postscript photos requested

Many friends requested a few more photos 
of my 90th Birthday Bash.
 I respond below with captions:




Leona with Myla, Makenna's baby sister  (Great-grands)










SIBLING LOVE!  Ephrem with baby Karis Leona:  (Great-grands)




  Daddy, Dr. Ed Choy (grandson) overnight tenting in Grandma's yard. Great-Grandsons Emet and Elijah dreaming of Redskins victories!)


Left:  Leona's home, "EAGLE SUMMIT" built for her by son Rick who owns it. He planned for plenty of room for family and guests who come to the Shenandoah Valley to visit her.
(Jeffrey D. Choy, grandson, fire-maker)





       Relaxing under the big tent while the kids enjoy the waterslide



Thanks, Uncle Jeff, (son) for the inflatable water slide and the big pavilion tent





Ted and Leona Choy: (way back when!)
 Parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of the
 current generations of the Choy Family




Thursday, July 16, 2015

SUPER WONDERFUL MILESTONE BIRTHDAY!

About 35 Choy-related celebrants descended on my home, “Eagle Summit,” in Winchester, Virginia on July 12. With the exception of two grandchildren, one spouse, and one great-grandchild, all four of my sons, (l to r: Rick, Gary, Jeff, Cliff), spouses, children and their grandchildren from hither and yon were on hand to celebrate my 90th birthday cum reunion.

Due to scheduling and distance, the family celebration had to be held later than my June 22nd “real” birth date on which I already celebrated with great gusto.  Never mind—I'm planning to celebrate the beginning of my nineties all year and each day as a gift from our Loving God!

God has blessed me and my late husband Ted with 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren! (In the photo below missing were 2 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.)
 
 
  There were FOUR GENERATIONS of us celebrating! The three most recent infant great-grands were passed around for hugs and snuggles. Thankfully they survived all the love lavished on them! I joyfully turned my master bedroom into a mothers' and infants' nursing room for mommies Kara, Kelly, and Laura. 


Who could resist holding any of these little angels?

Family members smoothly divided the tasks for decorating, preparing a delicious festive meal, birthday cake, and setting up a pavilion tent in my yard where the adults gathered to 
relax while a huge inflatable water slide entertained the children. Everything turned out incredibly harmonious despite such a crowd. With the teenage grandsons, some of the great-grands spent overnight in two tents beside a campfire in my yard. Clouds threatened, but no rain spoiled the fun.
I was surprised with a “This Is Your Life” video production which we viewed on a sheet hung over the draperies in my living room—each family received a DVD copy. I had not seen most of those photos for decades! I was further delighted to be given a “snapfish” color pictorial book with another selection of memorable photos of my life from birth to the present. What a pleasure to view over and over!

(The new little lady above is my "namesake" --Karis LEONA Choy)

Families who came from a distance spent several nights filling up all my guestrooms and floor space for the overflow and we enjoyed a few extra leisurely days of meals and time together. 

Wouldn't you guess? Photos were taken by the hundreds throughout the weekend and many have been displayed on Facebook. It was difficult to limit myself with those above.

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!"
 I'm overwhelmed with God's goodness and mercy which has followed me through the mountains and valleys of my long life—especially the blessing of the love and thoughtfulness
 of my precious ever-increasing family.
 I declare with Psalm 103:5
 “[God] satisfies my years with good things,
 so that my strength is renewed like the eagle.”