Friday, June 1, 2018

MOUNTAIN MUSINGS


MOUNTAIN MUSINGS

A Dialogue with God


Leona Choy



Lord, would You please deal with this mountain

That is looming so high in my life?


What shall I call the mountain—Impossible?

Perhaps painful or inconvenient or disabling?

It's invisible, only for You and me to see.

But it hinders me. I'd say it really gets to me


Please remove it! You promised

it could be cast into the sea for me.*


How do You plan to get rid of my mountain, Lord?

Will You use a bulldozer and tunnel right through it?

Or will You fly me over it in an angel helicopter?

Or simply wave Your mighty hand

or speak the word and disappear it?

Do you want me to go around it?


Oh, there's a condition?

I must have faith like a grain of mustard seed.

So I offer that to You. Is that all You need?

Are You going to use it like a stick of dynamite

and blow up my mountain? Spectacular!


You want me to stop guessing how You'll remove it?

That's something that You decide? Okay, I get it.


You say I might have misnamed my mountain?

It could be called “cross” or perhaps “thorn”?


The cross is for me to gladly “take up and follow You.”*

Like “sharing in the fellowship of Your sufferings.”*

The thorn is given me for Your special purpose

And, like You answered the apostle Paul,*

You are not going to take it away?

I might have to live with my mountain?


Lord, that wasn't the way I hoped You'd

deal with my unwanted mountain!


Gladly glory in my infirmities

and Your grace will be sufficient for me?*


That's a pretty big order.

But You'll be helping me, right?

Awesome!


^^^^


*Matthew 17:20; Matthew 10:38; Phil. 3:10; 1 Cor. 12:7-10










Saturday, May 26, 2018

PRESSING ON REGARDLESS



(Guest Post) What if?

"This morning the Bible program that is always open on my computer crashed. I could have gone inside to get a Bible, but what if they had all been confiscated by the government because of the “hate language” they contained? What if it was a crime, punishable by death, to share my faith in Jesus Christ?

ostrich 2
Sounds far-fetched? Not really unless we’ve buried our head in the sand and refused to recognize the growing hostility toward Christians in our nation. Not unless we’ve chosen to ignore how our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.


I got home at 1:00 am Wednesday morning from directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for the 22nd year. I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last year for the conference.

I’m NOT quitting and I’m NOT retiring even though I am 73. 

(Leona's note: I'm 20 years older than Marlene and still PRESSING ON REGARDLESS)

But I can’t assume that next year Christians will be free to gather or that our nation will even exist. When, not if, our economy collapses, we’ll have anarchy on our streets. If an EMT destroys our electrical grid, we’ll be back in the middle ages. Or if enemies intent on destroying America and Israel unleash another 911.
The sad fact for America is that
our sin has made God our enemy.
Because of the rejection of God and His Word
and because we have exchanged
the God of Life for the gods of death
and perversion,
America is already under
the Hand of God’s judgment.
If there is no national confession of sin and if we cannot find a heart of repentance, a Holy God will complete his judgment; either by the complete annihilation or subjugation of what was once a great and godly people or by rendering it completely irrelevant on the world stage.

And so with a growing urgency each year the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference [which Marlene established and still directs] strives to “encourage and equip Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” Whether through fiction or nonfiction, articles, poetry, or screenplays, we must “Write His Answer.”

****
(Leona adds:
Neither am I quitting or retiring. I'm taking [as deep a breath as I can with a chronically compromised lung from cancer surgery 28 years ago] to pursue my vision to pass on the writing baton to another generation of Christian writers. I'm going forward regardless of a mountain of "what ifs"--personal or national.

Jesus already warned us that "the night is coming when no man can work." I am a realist but full of hope to keep on "redeeming the time" I have left.)

Friday, May 25, 2018

PRESS THE PAUSE BUTTON




I published an entire book recently on this topic.

"Press the PAUSE button" was the subtitle of my book SELAH REFLECTIONS.


The word SELAH seems to be a mystery word in the Hebrew language. It occurs only in the Old Testament, 71 times in the Psalms. Since its exact meaning is obscure, most versions of the Bible don't even attempt to translate it but let it stand straight from the Hebrew.

Whether it's a musical term, an instruction to singers, indicates a PAUSE to praise God or to linger briefly and meditate on what is being said or written, I have combined all the possible meanings in my book: PAUSE, be silent, calmly think about this, ponder over it, meditate on it in your mind and spirit--then put it into action.

I filled this book with short, personal thought-reflections offering them as my own experiences to share with the reader to SELAH and PAUSE, to glean whatever Christian truth they might reveal. 

I call them sound bites in print, savory word snacks which I first posted as mini-articles on my blog: leonachoy.blogspot.com. I grew a book out of my blog posts and compiled them under the SELAH theme.


All of us need the SELAH PAUSES desperately in our often accelerated lives in the daily fast lane. We seem to have lost our appetite for quiet contemplation or we have never even experienced it.

How I need "the PAUSE that refreshes"! Why does it seem so difficult to program it into my crowded days? I try to find SELAH moments to press the PAUSE button and capture opportunities to laud and applaud God from Whom all blessings flow. Then my "to do" list doesn't seem so ominous.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

MEET MY FRIEND LOUISE


Now is never too late and you are never too old to start doing something new! 

Let me tell you about my still-never-met-in-person author friend, Louise. I love to applaud other writers and recommend their books. The book shown above is a page-turner. My cup of tea got cold because I couldn't put this book down. 

I did have a problem. I thought I was reading my own writing--Louise and I are so in sync on topic, writing style, many mutual life experiences, long-term widowhood, a love for the Lord and desire to uplift the attitudes of our fellow calendar-challenged friends.

I'm a lifelong writer, but Louise's writing career began at age seventy-nine. Since then, she has written six outstanding books. Not having read her other books, although I intend to, I recommend this one without reservations.

Louise is not a newbie in life experience, however. She has taught in all levels of education from elementary school through college,    and in the prison system. A widow since the passing of her husband in his fifties, she has raised her family, managed a Christian Retreat Center for fifteen years and served as the Spiritual Director in a psychiatric hospital.

Would you believe? She says her greatest accomplishments have been since her mid-seventies when she started going to China to teach in an underground Bible school! There we are in sync again with our China connection. And certainly in our mutual desire to leave a legacy through our writings and personal witness wherever  the Lord has planted us.

Now in her late eighties, Louise is out there busily speaking to Christian Writer's Conferences, on radio, making YouTube videos with her humor and continuing to live it up--and write more.

MAKE THE REST OF YOUR DAYS THE BEST OF YOUR DAYS is no small book at 233 pages. How user-friendly is it? The ultimate: she has packed each chapter with her own life experience vignettes and those of others--you eagerly await her next illustration and it comes quickly.  Her format is to use bite-sized, usually half-page topics with phrase appetizers to whet your appetite. Ideal for the diminishing attention span of the senior reader.

The subject Louise is exploring is the best real life exposition of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes chapter 12 that I have ever read. Several thousand years ago, the author, King Solomon, gave a poetic but rather dismal description of what happens to an aging body--to any aging person then and now. Louise brings it up-to-date without sparing any punches with her personal, earthy illustrations. If you are anywhere near the AARP age you will relate to her uninhibited examples dished out with spice and humor.

She doesn't leave us dangling in suspense and depression as we face the deterioration of our mortal bodies, as the apostle Paul so well laid it out in 2 Corinthians chapter four, verses 16-18.  Louise shows us, not just tells us, how not to "lose heart" with the downhill slide of our outer person, but to "be renewed day by day."

She demonstrates how a Christian can cultivate a godly, joyful life that radiates from within regardless of what is happening to our "earth suits." (We both use that term in our writing, although we didn't know each other or had ever read one another's writings until  a few weeks ago.)

Louise is so well-grounded in God's Word and so adept at finding just the right verse to season her illustrations that her writing flows seamlessly. I was so sorry that her book ended. At the same time, there was satisfactory closure to the topic. I was left restless and yet recharged to continue applying the principles from the Word even into my own life as a nonagenarian.

My new friend didn't leave me without consolation. With her book came a CD of Scriptures For Encouragement read by Louise in her sweet Southern accent, accompanied by the gentle strains of background flute music of familiar hymns played by one of her granddaughters. I'm on my eighth listen-through since I slid the disk into my Toyota's CD player for my drives into town. The Word of God is  "dwelling in [my ears] richly."

I must tell you where to find my friend Louise. www.louisellooney.com. Go there. Really. And beside this book, see what other book you can order and savor for yourself.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

FOR A TIME CAPSULE

Does an author ever write anything that is not targeted for publication?
I explored that in chapter nine in my recently published book, Writing For The Supreme Editor titled "Homespun Writing." 

That kind of writing is "published" not in a paperback edition or online but in real time from our hearts to the hearts of people for whom we specifically write. It already accomplishes its purpose. No publicist or marketing or promotion or publicity needed. People close to us are often the ones to receive such writing. 

In the case below, I wrote it to be put into a Time Capsule to be opened by my twin great-granddaughters on their 18th birthday. Today we celebrate their first birthday.

My writing will be "in print" for 18 years and be "reprinted" in the year 2036, Lord willing. That's a longer in stock duration than most books rolling off the press these days. At its "publication" today it has subsidiary readers by family and friends and my blog viewers across the country and around the world. I'd say that's a pretty extensive readership for a piece of homespun writing that wasn't intended for the usual publication track, wouldn't you?


Dear Great-grandchildren Abigail and Charlotte,

My name is Leona Choy. Many in our family call me “Bubi” which is the short form of the Czech language word pronounced “Bubitchka” which means “grandmother.” I am your great-grand-Bubi.
I was so excited to meet both of you beautiful babies when you came to visit me soon after you were born!  

Today you are celebrating your first birthday in real time, but apparently you will not be reading this note from me until you are 18 years old. We used to say that something like that is pretty “cool.” I don't know what newly coined words you say at the time you are reading this.


I wonder what you both look like as you are reading this 18 years later—you are two beautiful, intelligent young women for sure, who are probably living in a much different society than you were when you celebrated your first birthday. I can hardly imagine what your world will be like in 2036.
 
I won't be around to celebrate your 18th birthday with you. I expect to be in Heaven where I also anticipate meeting you girls someday. Then we will all be together again like when we were on Earth and we'll have a mega-celebration to get to know each other again.
I might actually know all about your growing years even when I'm in Heaven. I've been praying to my Heavenly Father God for you every day since long before you were born. When I get to Heaven, I believe I will keep on doing the same thing—praying for you every day.  

Oops! Maybe they don't count days in Heaven since everything there is forever? Perhaps God sends His angels to Earth to carry out the answers to the prayers we are bringing to Him for those we love who are still on Earth--like you. We will have lots of surprises when we get to Heaven!
You probably won't remember me when you are 18 because you were too young to figure out who is who among all the people in your family who love you. As you grow, you will sort out who is who. But your G-G Bubi has written a lot of books so that when you read them, you will get to know me too. Perhaps one or both of you will become writers too?  

 
I was once a baby like you girls. This is my picture before I was one year old.  I didn't have any sisters or brothers.
When I grew up I had children of my own, four boys. Your Poppy Cliff was one of them. 


This is a picture of him with his brothers when he was a little boy. He is the one sitting in front of me. Yes, that is me G-G Bubi holding Poppy's new baby brother. To my right is my mother, Marie. To my left is Poppy's Daddy Ted.
Years went by and I was thrilled to have 10 grandchildren...your Mommy Kristen was one of them.
Eventually God blessed me with great-grandchildren like you. You girls were #12 and #13 of my great-grandchildren.
Then more years went by and I had the fun of growing really older. This is my picture when I was 90 years old. I am almost 93 when I am writing this letter to you. 

Through the love that your Daddy Bob and Mommy Kristen had for each other, you girls were born. That is how you got your earthly bodies. I call them “earth suits.” 

Those bodies will grow old someday too. 
But when you were born, God also gave each of you separately a soul or spirit deep within you, invisible. That is the “real you.” Because God made your soul for living forever and ever. It will never grow old and die. I hope you will be learning more about all the exciting things that God, your Creator, planned for you two. 
 
God loves you more than you can imagine and wants to be your closest Friend and Heavenly Father all your lives. God is with you constantly so you will never need to feel alone even at times when  you will be away from each other and living your own lives separately. He designed a wonderful and different plan for both of you for your lives according to the talents and gifts and abilities He has given differently to both of you. I get so excited to think about what you both will become in your lives!

I want you both to know that I love you dearly, heaps and a bundle, and I'm so proud to have you in my life.
I want to give you a blessing:
“May the Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you (that means “smile”) and enlighten you and be gracious, kind, merciful and giving favor to you; May the Lord lift up His approving countenance upon you and give you peace, tranquility of heart and life continually.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

I pray that God may lead you, Abigail and Charlotte, all through your lives ahead and bless and prosper you in all your ways—forever and forever.


With all my love,
Your great-grand-Bubi Leona Choy

Friday, April 27, 2018

OL'YELLER JOHN DEERE


STUCK is the word of the day for “FMF” Five Minute Friday writing challenge.

My son Rick specializes in getting people UNSTUCK.


 That is because he owns a big kinda rusty ol' yeller John Deere backhoe.


We live in a wooded lots subdivision and his volunteer services are often needed whatever the season.


In winter after a blizzard our neighbors get STUCK in snow banks.


In rainy spring they manage to get their riding mowers STUCK in the mud by the creek.


My grandson Jeffrey got his pickup truck STUCK in the woodland last week while clearing out some nasty, thorny undergrowth.


I got to thinking about the people in my own life who sometimes pull me out of my STUCK situations. God bless them for encouraging me and acting as my cheerleaders when I'm feeling low.


We all have times when we're emotionally or even literally in the pits. King David the Psalmist talks about God rescuing him when he's “STUCK in the miry clay.” The Lord God is our John Deere. We put out an S.O.S. and God immediately shows up to pull us out and set us on a rock—the solid Rock, Jesus. “He is our ever-present help in time of trouble.”


I think about my own responsibility to other people who are STUCK in the problems of life and need my John Deere assistance. I must lovingly come alongside them with my encouragement and offer my strength derived from God to UNSTUCK them. The Lord tells me to “bear one another's burden and so fulfill the law of Christ.”


Whatever the season of my life or in the lives of the STUCK ones, I must be there on call for them “in season and out of season.” That's what the Body of Christ is all about. We are knit together in the love of God and love for one another.

Monday, April 23, 2018

“Wait for YOUR TURN!”

Written for the prompt word "TURN" for FMF Community challenge


When I was a toddler my mother's constant words whenever she took me to the park or when she was teaching me to play nicely with my neighborhood playmates, “Take turns now. Your turn will come.” But children aren't born with an ounce of patience.


My turn eventually did come.


When I grew impatient to start kindergarten like the neighbor children, again I heard, “Your turn will come.”


And it did, of course.


Later, when I was anxious to grow up quickly and graduate and get on with life, “Your turn will come.”


And it did.


I couldn't wait to finish college and get on with planning for my wedding. Yes, my turn came.


And my turn came to become a mother.

Then a grandmother.

Then my turn has come to experience the joy of being a great-grandmother of 13 youngsters.


Now, with God's generous blessing of longevity, I look eagerly ahead for my turn to lay aside my “earth suit” and turn it in for a “space suit” more appropriate for Eternal Immortal Living.


“To everything there is a season,” declared the wisest of men in the Scriptures. “There is a turn for every stage of life. That's the perfect way God designed it.