Sunday, November 27, 2016

New book in ENCOUNTERING LOSS Trilogy


Joining Leona's book SINGLED OUT FOR GOD'S ASSIGNMENT: A Widow's Valley of Learning, and THE WIDOW'S MIGHT: Strength From the Rock, is her new book NOT ALONE: Travel Tips for Your Journey Through Loss just off the press!

In an easy-to-read format Leona presents distilled gem-thoughts excerpted from her book SINGLED OUT. As “A Taste Of...” and companion volume to her flagship book, it is intended as an appetizer for reading the entire book which amplifies the principles shared herein and helps the reader to adjust to her new normal life at her own pace.

NOT ALONE is an ideal first book to offer as a caring gift to someone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Written for the woman newly alone, these spiritual vitamins nourish her spirit and lead her toward healthy, single personhood.

These are mini-devotional nuggets of comfort and encouragement which appeared first in Leona's popular sold out book, Walk the Green Valley. They now appear in this new book combined with a 50 page STUDY GUIDE for use individually or with a support group. Suggestions for starting and conducting an encouragement group are offered.

ALL of Leona's books including the new ones just being published are available for the same price, $12.95 per copy plus S/H. That makes it easy and simple for you to order. This comes just in time for your Christmas reading and gift giving.

SPECIAL PROMOTION PRICE!

Leona has 5 new books coming off the press in the several last months of 2016. For the first 2 months after each of her new books becomes available, the price per copy of that new one will be only $10! After the initial promotion, it will continue to be available, of course, at the price of $12.95.

That means that her first new book of this year, FABLES OF GOD'S'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN-UPS is still in the promotion period for $10 no matter how many copies you would like to order for Christmas giving.

Now NOT ALONE has arrived, and you can also order it for $10 for the next two months through January 2017.

The same offer holds after each of her other three new books comes off the press. After her web site www.goldenmorning.com is redesigned, you will find some GREAT BARGAINS and COMBO SPECIALS.

One of those specials is available NOW at even less as a promotional!  

You may purchase the entire TRILOGY of Leona's ENCOUNTERS WITH LOSS books mentioned above (all 3 books!) for the discount price of $26.95 for the next 2 months only. I can say with almost certainty that everyone reading this knows a friend or relative who has experienced the loss of a loved one and would benefit from these popular Christian books.

Until the Golden Morning Publishing web site is redesigned, you can order your special promotional copies and all other books Leona has written by emailing her at leonachoy@gmail.com or phoning your order to her 540-877-1813 or writing her at 497 Devland Dr. Winchester, VA 22603.

Order without delay and solve some of your Christmas giving
with an order for Leona's books!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A THORNY MATTER



This post might become somewhat serious; it is so for me. One of my more-than-several medical persons remarked after our discussion about managing one of my more-than-several physical unfixable infirmities, “Well, that's your cross to bear.” 

I wasn't sure that he was right, so I began to research the matter more thoroughly in Scripture. In brief, without any private interpretation, I examined just the facts from the text and context and concluded that there is a difference between our CROSS and a THORN. To be accurate, I think that my medical person should have referred to my malady as "a thorn in the flesh." It was not, strictly speaking, "my cross." The Scriptures speak clearly about both.


Each has a God-aspect. Some people incorrectly use the word cross for any misfortune or trouble, as when “bearing one's cross” means to suck it up and put up with something patiently. However, apparently a cross is something a normal Christian disciple is to “take up daily” as a follower of Christ. (Mark 8:34) Trouble and suffering for the body may follow as a consequence of our witness for Him. A cross is not something we should plead for God to take away from us. On the contrary, carrying a cross carries with it the joy and privilege of being united to Christ. (Matthew 16:24, 25) Carrying a cross is a qualification of discipleship requiring denying oneself even to the loss of life for His sake while confessing Jesus before men. (Matthew 10:33, 38) Jesus declared that if we don't take up our cross we are not worthy of Him. A cross is not optional for a follower of Christ. A hard saying, but in fact, Jesus said that if we don't carry our own cross, we can't be His disciple. (Luke 14:27) It would seem then that a cross is not a physical infirmity or some disorder of the body.

What is a thorn in the flesh then? In Scripture it is something that is given not something we should take up. It is described in detail in 2 Corinthians chapter twelve. When we examine the apostle Paul's case, he tells us explicitly why a thorn in the flesh was given him, who gave it, what Paul prayed for, how God answered, and the outcome. I researched the topic in every translation I could find and from every angle to squeeze the meaning from every word. I didn't want to get this wrong. I have compiled the results with the variations in the words without any deviation from the text.


Who gave Paul the thorn in the flesh? He called it “a messenger of Satan” in the beginning. Doubtless Satan wanted to dissuade and dismay and cause the apostle to doubt the dealings of God. He took advantage of what God was permitting for a special purpose. But then Paul recognized that the thorn was coming from God. Why did God give him the thorn? He had favored Paul with incredible private spiritual experiences, “surpassing great revelations” beyond which other men ever had. He had grounds for boasting. In the natural, he could have felt proud. In the first six verses of this chapter he alluded to his marvelous experience while caught up into the third heaven. However, it was not allowed by God to “glory in” such things or to talk about them.


We know Paul was speaking about himself not someone else when referring to that experience because he changed to the “me” pronoun. He obviously waited fourteen years even to mention it. God wanted to make sure that he wouldn't boast and “let the cat out of the bag” so He went to great lengths not to humiliate Paul but to keep him humble. Paul obviously recognized that it was “to keep me from becoming conceited or exalting myself” or letting other people exalt him because of what he had experienced.

The thorn was obviously some serious physical infirmity (probably more than an allergy attack!) about which he anguished and wanted to be rid of. He was no sissy. Note the list in chapter eleven of all the incredible hardships he went through for the sake of the gospel. The thorn couldn't have been a cross because this chiefest of the apostles wouldn't have pleaded to have it taken away. He wanted healing from something “in his flesh” that was tormenting him and buffeting him. Other translations say blow after blow, a prick of my flesh, like a continuous slap of his face, beating him, harassing him, using one's fist, pounding away at me, a handicap, a weakness, a splinter, a stake in my flesh, some physical malady that persisted, that was chronic. Paul wanted to be healed. He prayed to have the thorn removed from him completely, “depart from him.”

What was the nature of Paul's thorn? Bible scholars differ and speculate, but agree that it must have been something physical that was painful and had to do with his body. It was definitely a big "ouch!" Was it something that had to do with his eyes, something residual from his three days of blindness at his conversion? Did it cause him to write in certain letters that he was signing that particular one “with my own hand,” as if that was not his usual manner? “But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself” (Galatians 4:13,14). He adds, “...that if possible you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.” Whatever it was, it was also a trial to the people to whom he preached. Was it cataracts or Macular degeneration? Or was his hand shaking as in a Parkinson's tremor so that he, a highly educated and literate man, could not write his own letters but had to depend upon others? It was something bad enough to cause him suffering when he ministered in the churches; on another occasion it was noted that his speech was contemptible. We simply aren't told.


Paul did pray, that was commendable, and God didn't fault him for asking for healing. Jesus Himself prayed three times with sweat like great drops of blood in the Garden prior to His trial asking if this cup could pass from Him and that He could be spared the cross that was ahead of Him. He also “pleaded with God” and received a negative answer. Jesus' response was in surrender that God's will be done. Paul too persisted pleading “three times,” not just quick prayers, obviously over a period of time. The first two times God must have been silent until after the third entreaty. Then God spoke. [Paraphrased] “The answer is no, Paul. I'm not taking your bodily illness away. I am permitting it for a purpose. My grace is enough for you to bear it. When you are weak, then I can show Myself most effective to work through you. Your sense of your own weakness fits you to receive My divine strength.”

Paul, we've been a fly on the wall while you've been learning this painful lesson that has so much to do with our own personal thorns in the flesh. We each have our own thorns. And God doesn't fault us for asking to be healed. Thank you for sharing this teaching moment with us. If we may ask, when did you really “get it?” You didn't tell us whether it was still a struggle to adjust to a “no” answer from God who so highly favored you with those supernatural revelations, or whether your turn-around acceptance was instantaneous. Your thorn kept hurting, didn't it? Everything was still worst case scenario. There was no relief or light at the end of the tunnel. You would have to live with the thorn until God took you Home. Whenever it was that you “got it” your spiritual eyes finally “saw” what God was after.


That's when you declared to all of us who “have ears to hear”: “Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in, boast, delight, take pleasure in my weaknesses and infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak in my human strength, then am I truly strong—able, powerful in Your divine strength.” [Amplified Version]

You didn't tell us specifically what your thorn was, Paul. Was that deliberate? We know you had a human body just like ours that can hurt with innumerable things that can get out of order inside of our bodies or in our outward appearance, especially as we age, as you did too. So this allows us to identify with you—our own thorn can be anything that is common to humankind or unique to ourselves. The purpose for the thorn, however, is probably the same—that we might remain humble and not think too highly of ourselves and boast of our spiritual experiences. And we can be sure that God will answer us in the same way.

The Message translation of verse 7 puts a down to earth spin on what we were meant to learn:

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!”


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

HOT OFF THE PRESS! (Literally!)

My first attempt at writing a fiction book: "FABLES OF GOD'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN-UPS," is off the press! 

The shipment has just arrived. The cases are still stacked in my entrance hall.

FABLES is the first published of the 5 new books I have written this year. 

 By the end of the year I anticipate all 5 of my new books to be off the press and 3 of my previous books that were sold out are in process of being reprinted and available for order again. (We have been sort of busy.)  

My webmaster son Rick has been professionally producing all my books and handling technical logistics of publishing. As soon as possible he will make the new books available on e-books too!

Now he is hard at work redesigning our Golden Morning Publishing web site www.goldenmorning.com to reflect my new titles, with updated reviews of each book pictured with its color cover, and a listing of all my books available for ordering. You will also find some easier ways of ordering and some deep discounts for Combo Specials of some of my related topic books.

The price of every one of my books, including the new ones just published, will be the same: $12.95 plus s/h.  That makes it easy for you to order!

Here's some special good news just in time for your Christmas reading and gift giving: For the next 2 months after each of my new books becomes available, the price for a copy of that new one will be only $10! (After that, it will continue to be available, of course, at the price of $12.95.)


That means that from today to the end of January, a copy of  FABLES OF GOD'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN-UPS will cost you only $10 no matter how many copies you would like to order for Christmas giving!  

When my new book NOT ALONE: Travel Tips for Your Journey Through Loss arrives in a week or so, the same promotional price of $10 a copy applies until the end of January.

When UPS delivers the cases of my SELAH REFLECTIONS: Press the PAUSE Button, the same promotional price of $10 will apply for the two months after that.

The same applies when PSALMS OF MY HARVEST: Confessions of a Psalmist rolls off the press.

And still $10 a copy for the first two months when SAGE BRUSHINGS: Painting With Words is shipped to me.

When my new web site is updated, you will find some great bargains for Combo Specials. And bonus CD's that are topic related will come tucked into some of my books.

To whet your appetite, here is what the back cover of FABLES says:
Imagineerings and Personifications

LEONA CHOY is primarily known as a non-fiction writer of her more than 40 published books. But this modest volume is obviously fiction! You can tell that she had a delightful time trying her wings creating and writing these fanciful mini-stories for a change. She wrote not only to entertain readers but with the hope that they might find some meaningful take-away value.

These selections might at first seem slanted toward juvenile readers, since Leona presents them in a fairy tale or fantasy format. They are, in fact, adult-oriented because of their symbolic and allegorical content. Definitely for a mature audience.

Leona doesn't tell you how to interpret what she calls her “imagineerings.” She respects the readers' intelligence and lets them draw their own moral conclusions or applications.

She takes her own path to creatively express universal truths and principles at times through humor and hyperbole. Her writing devices include parable, allegory, fable, metaphor, simile, analogy and dialogue.

Freely employing anthropomorphic terminology, she ascribes human characteristics, emotions, speech, or attributes to a being or thing not human, including God. Leona calls it personification, where ideas or emotions speak for themselves. She supports her ideation with relevant biblical references.

Each life contemplation is bite sized and can stand alone. Leona offers 31 original fables for you to enjoy!

Until my Golden Morning Publishing web site is redesigned, you can order your special promotional copy (copies) of FABLES OF GOD'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN-UPS by emailing me leonachoy@gmail.com or phoning your order to me 540-877-1813


Order without delay and solve some of your Christmas giving with an order for Leona's books!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

THOUGHTS ON BURNING BUSHES



Today while proofreading my fourth new book for this year, Psalms of My Harvest, I went over a poem that was somewhat of a segue to my forthcoming fifth book, Sage Brushings, which I was preparing to hand over to production. (Of course, I ended up editing it again! Please be patient with me.)

Truly I often feel like that look-alike, dangerous tumbleweed which is simply a facsimile of the hearty, rooted, commendable sagebrush. The tumbleweed is out of control and is blown anywhere at the mercy of the wind. It can easily catch on fire in its dry stage and threatens nature and human life. I must be careful not to ignite my own self-flame, also to avoid senseless burnout which blesses no one.


Burning Bush

Burning bush yet not consumed,
Lord, I would be. But generally
my lifestyle seems
more like burnout to me.

My frantic pace emanates
a glow of sorts but hollow
mostly my own aura
of heat and sweat that repels
not draws others to follow.

Often consumed by my own ambition
weary and depleted from speaking
my own words in my own strength
sometimes at length but with no effect,
I don't think, Lord, that's what You meant
when You ignited that plant in the desert.

Wasn't it to show that You speak to man
through any means You choose?
That You can use the ordinary
fired by Your power
yet not altering intrinsic identity?
That You can express Your might through
something rooted in an unlikely spot
or even through a tumbleweed like me
blown about by my unceasing activity?

Burning bush, yet not consumed, Yes, Lord
I want to be. Go ahead and work on me
so I can be Your spokesman and You
can manifest Your flaming words through me.

****

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him[Moses] in a blazing
fire from the midst of a bush, and he looked, and behold,
the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.”
(Exodus 3:2-5)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"SAGE" REFLECTIONS


Three cheers for the sagebrush!


Contrary to what we may think, the sagebrush is not a useless plant stuck way out in dry, arid places. It has much to commend itself. The fact that it's so common doesn't diminish its value. As a cousin to the daisy family, it has a not unpleasant, although pungent aroma. In the lonely desert with no human beings to appreciate it, it persists in being beautiful with lovely yellow flowers and evergreen foliage. Although it lives in a dry land, it's extensive taproot finds water deep beneath it. Its surface roots gather water from the sparse rains, so whatever the conditions, it can survive.


The many branched bush is a shady shelter and hiding place for small and larger animals as its silver-gray foliage provides a good camouflage. The sagebrush isn't going anywhere—it is soundly anchored in the desert. It can be depended on to grow where it is planted and fulfill its purpose. Its foliage when applied topically is used by Native Americans for medicine, healing infection, and in the treatment of many illnesses.


A sagebrush copycat


In the process of my research I found an impostor to the worthy sagebrush. The tumbleweed, an equally beautiful pink and white blossoming shrub that looks much like the sagebrush also grows in arid, sandy soil areas. Several species were brought over from the Ukraine in about 1887 to South Dakota along with flax seeds. That is why it is often called the Russian thistle or “wind witch.” It gradually took over the barren landscape as Kudzu has in other areas. During its green growing season, it can easily be mistaken for the sagebrush. But in late summer its branches dry up, the plant dies, and seeds are produced which are poisonous and distasteful to animals, so they stay clear of the tumbleweed. A single plant may grow up to 3 feet and bear 250,000 seeds.


The strong, hot winds force the tumbleweed to detach from the soil, leave its roots behind, and abandon its birth place to take off to parts unknown, rolling and tumbling like an acrobat wherever the wind carries it. The purpose is to disperse their seeds as they go along to produce more tumbleweeds. The seeds are short lived and germinate rapidly wherever they land. When the dead tumbleweeds bump into each other, because they are thorny, they spontaneously entangle. These collections of trouble become monstrous in size so they can no longer roll. They block highways and impede cars as they roll against them. The wind piles them high against fences and even against houses and buildings in huge stacks where they block the entrances. The dry plants are flammable and become a fire hazard. The tumbleweed is said to have no redeeming value.


Wisdom wins out


Seeking for a spiritual analogy between the worthy sagebrush and the useless, dangerous tumbleweed is not difficult, nor is the contrast between the the two “look-alike” plants. As Jesus taught in parables (analogies), He came close in His story of the wheat and the tares (also “look alike”) being allowed by the Lord of the Harvest to grow together until the Day of Judgment.


Many Christians find themselves planted by God in isolated, forsaken, dry and arid places even while living in densely populated urban areas. Spiritually, we may perceive our environment either to be like a desert place or a jungle. Whichever is our reality, God wants us to be content, satisfied, and fruitful wherever He plants us. Jesus is there with us in each locale, never forsaking us. We are to blossom for Him under both extremes, in the dense, tropical rain forest and in the scorching, arid desert. Strikingly beautiful flowers bloom for their Creator in both places whether or not there are any human eyes around to enjoy them. Those who are “in Christ” are His precious desert flowers. We may be planted where Living Water is scarce, but like the sagebrush, we know where to find it as we point our roots to the deep. Having received the Living Water, we are to bear it to others.


Sagebrush people are “sage”; they wisely don't complain asking, “Why Me?” The answer is no secret. They identify their generous calling to provide shade, encouragement, and shelter for others. They give up their “leaves” for the healing and restoration of others. Their environment may be no picnic in the park. It may involve getting sand in our shoes and in our mouths, and enduring scorching heat. The first chapter of 2 Corinthians sets forth our clear agenda. God has a purpose for wherever He has put us: first of all, that we might prove Him sufficient for all our needs, and second, for others in the same or similar situations to comfort and strengthen and encourage them.


Isaiah 58:6-11 becomes more specific: We are to spend ourselves for others and in doing so, we will be like a well-watered garden, an ever-flowing spring, an oasis to point the way to Jesus. We are not to seek a change of environment but stay anchored by our roots.


The impostor tumbleweed person allows his roots to be severed with any strong gust of wind and is likely just to take off. He becomes “driven and tossed by the wind” in terms that James 1:6 describes. Such people in their restless blowing and tumbling about find it easy to get entangled with others like themselves and together they become a formidable threat and danger to others. They spread “seeds of malcontent” which reproduce their characteristics and multiply themselves.


As Jesus so often reminded, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” “Make your ear attentive to wisdom [be sage!], incline your heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:2).


*****
(From some of Leona's research for her forthcoming 5th new book for 2016 titled SAGE BRUSHINGS: Painting With Words)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sunrise time lapse

A rare spectacle! Rare for me since I haven't been rising early these late October mornings. Rare because I confess that I haven't been walking faithfully for exercise while pushing self-imposed, almost unrealistic writing deadlines. Rare because it was a break in the rainy weather—but I made it this morning. We had a frost warning lately so I grabbed my winter coat and set off.



I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by an encounter unfolding in the sky. I stood in the middle of our country road and silently watched a spectacular drama. The sky had been overcast but all of a sudden first a pink then a deep ruddy glow appeared in the Eastern horizon. The sun peaked over the treetops, seemed to hesitate a moment, then the entire skyscape burst into a blush wine.

I turned around to the West toward the still shadowy dark Blue Ridge mountains which took but a moment to glow cherry-red in reflection of the rising sun. The entire mountain just as quickly was painted in carmine, then blood-red, then brilliant flame-red as I held my breath. Almost before I could take in the magnificent scene, the drama of the mountain began to dropped back into lavender then darkened into violet. Suddenly the whole mountain was clothed in deep purple, then reverted to shadowy black.



It all happened in a passing moment as the sun climbed higher but suddenly changed its mind deciding that today was a day to stay hidden behind the clouds. Then it disappeared. But of course the sun kept brilliantly shining, only not visible to me. The wind whipped up scattering dry, lifeless autumn leaves around me. I pulled up my collar and shivered.

The picture above doesn't do justice to God's real thing. Everything happened so fast and I was so mesmerized that I didn't give a thought to try capturing any of the drama on my smart phone camera. No camera lens or artist's brush would be adequate anyway.



The dramatic episode over, the mountain was back to unremarkable, murky, drab, somber. Did I dream the brilliant scene I had momentarily viewed? I kept standing, transfixed by what had transpired. I would never have anticipated that I would have such an encounter with nature when I set out in the semi-darkness of pre-dawn.



Was there meaning here to be understood? I believe there is nothing without meaning as we pass moment by moment through life. Was there some connection here to something else? Was there something meant just for me at this point in my life, in my day?



My thoughts went to my most recent manuscript spread all over my kitchen table in its final proof before my son Rick, my professional producer, would print out the pages in a camera-ready format to be sent to the publisher to schedule for the printing press. The title? *SELAH REFLECTIONS: Press the PAUSE Button. Was God demonstrating to me what that mysterious term “Selah” means, although biblical scholars are still not certain what its 71 times repetition in the Psalms is really all about? I settled on a composite definition and wrote my book around that thought: “be silent, think about, ponder over, meditate on, roll it over in your mind and spirit.”



What did my mountain spectacular drama mean? GOD WAS WHISPERING “SELAH” TO ME this morning! There are many Selah moments throughout my days if my heart and mind are open to recognize them. If I whisper back to God, “I notice! I notice!” If I take the time in my hurried, feverish, deadline oriented life to Press the PAUSE button. Only then am I able to hear God's voice, if I invite Him, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.”



This morning's demonstration? “The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” Psalm 19:1. Yes, King David the Psalmist, you probably marveled at the same sight and paused to praise God, as I do. Yes, Selah, Selah! You, Lord, are the same yesterday, today, and forever! You paint our sky today as You did in ages past from Your creation of the world. That's something to Selah! about!



*Note: This new book soon to be on the press, along with several others newly off the press, are due to be released before Christmas, Lord willing. Thank God, I'm meeting my self-deadlines with the prayer help of my “Praying Eagles.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cobwebs of the Commonplace


A friend sent me this pithy quotation in a blog post this morning just as I was settling in for a "mostly nothing special" day, anticipating only the daily necessary routine of which most of our lives consist: 

"Our Work in life is to find the Sacred in the mundane; and failing that, our Work is to create, foster and build the Sacred within the mundane."

What, after all, is mundane? Was that what we would call the thirty long years, prime years of His manhood, that Jesus spent in a small village workshop which might have been known as "Joseph & Son Woodwork and Masonry" tucked away in an insignificant postage stamp size country

Do you wonder what Jesus might have answered if His Mother asked Him each evening until His 30th birthday, "How was your day?"

Is mundane the ordinary stuff that most of us are engaged in most every day of our lives whether gainfully employed or retired or as homemakers who are not members of the clergy or Religious?

Mundane is defined as "secular, temporal, earthly, pertaining to everyday cares and concerns of this world rather than to spiritual matters; common; ordinary; banal. Banal? That means "devoid of freshness or originality; hackneyed or trite." Synonym: commonplace. 

Just something to think about while you are "mundaning"....


Cobwebs of the Commonplace

Leona Choy

The haze of familiarity hangs heavy
on my personal horizon today.
I anticipate the ordinary
routine responsibilities
daily demands, humdrum happenings
cobwebs of the commonplace
the sameness of my surroundings.

O Lord, can it be
that you delight to step
into my ordinary?

You become real in my routines
and mirror Your majesty
in what I call my tedious monotony.
Are You pleased to be
present in my plodding
when You stoop to use my usual
to adorn Your Deity?

Accept, O Lord, my trifling tasks
which seem mundane to me
my day-by-day ordinary
as a humble sacrifice of praise
presented to Your Majesty
from my altar of mediocrity
to glorify Your Name.