November 30 is the projected release date for Leona Choy's third spiritual autobiography in her “Land of MORE” Trilogy: STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT: Living Our Vintage Season.
You've already written many other books. What is the distinctiveness of this Trilogy?
These are the first books I have written about my adventures of faith since I became a Catholic Christian.
Didn't you write an autobiography of your life already?
CZECHING MY ROOTS: A Heritage Saga and Autobiography, chronicled the first 80 years of my life experiences, ministry, and genealogical past. In fact, I thought that was the last book I would write, given my age.
Then what happened?
Through a series of events that encompassed four years of intense research and prayer, I chose to make a faith paradigm shift to become a Catholic Christian. I explained that process in my first book from a Catholic perspective, MY JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF MORE: Evangelical to Catholic.
What do you mean by the term “Land of More?”
From my youth I have always desired for more of God's revealed truth and specifically an ever closer walk with God. I found that in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and also with each new step of deeper understanding of His Word and ways and my own life commitment to Him. This was true in my years as an evangelical Christian and has continued in these recent years as a Catholic Christian—always pressing on to “more.” So I use the term comprehensively of my entire life journey as a Christian.
Then you wrote a sequel?
LIVING THE TREASURES OF THE LAND OF MORE: Discoveries of a New Catholic Christian. I shared what I was beginning to learn about the richness of living the Catholic life. I built upon the good biblical and spiritual foundation of my youth and prime years as a Protestant.
And then this third one?
I wrote this book because I am living in the final season of the long life God generously has given me as a cancer survivor of 24 years and a widow for 22 years. I am personally challenged to finish well. I've tried to answer the question of whether the Lord of all seasons of life heretofore can also be Lord of our late calendar years.
What is the theme of your book?
I believe from the Scriptures that God intends the advanced years of a Christian's life to flourish in inward spiritual life despite natural human decline. Flourishing depends largely on appropriating the power and wisdom and enabling of Holy Spirit and applying it to our individual state in life. We can still live the abundant life that Jesus promised even when life slows with age, one's faculties diminish, and the road narrows.
Is this a book for caregivers and about people who are growing older?
No. On the contrary, it is from the point of view of the person herself/himself who is experiencing the “growing older” process. I express my own thoughts and feelings as I attempt to do it God's way. And I include my reader in the learning process--"our vintage season"-- because everyone inevitably faces that experience if one lives long enough. However, caregivers or those looking on can benefit greatly from an understanding of how people feel who are going through their advancing years.
Is there another sub-theme you have woven throughout your book?
Yes, the need for wisdom and discernment in our later years. We are challenged to keep changing the things we still can change, even in our most advanced years, and to accept with joy and trust in God that which we cannot change. My book begins with a prayer for wisdom as we stand at the foothills of our upward summit season journey. It captures the theme of the entire book in its 30 petitions as I try to "do aging" God's way and pray, God, grant me the wisdom of mature years to circumvent the potential foolishness of aging.
What do you mean by the term “summit season”?
I use the analogy of climbing a mountain to describe our life journey. We climb toward the pinnacle from which one day we will launch into Life Eternal. It is an upward journey, not a downhill slide. As we approach the actual summit, there is a chronological season of unknown length when we experience the struggles and successes of that upward climb. It can be a vintage season, where “the best wine has been saved until last,” as spoken during Jesus' first miracle at a wedding feast.
That is not the attitude of many people during the growing-old stage of their lives. They tend to look at their final years negatively as already being “over the hill” with everything going South.
I believe the opposite attitude is the one God wants us to have. This is captured in the statements in Psalm 90 spoken about righteous aging persons, “...they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.”
Is this book strictly a personal journal?
No, neither is it an instruction manual. I share my own experiences during this advanced season, but I include the reader in our common experiences and realistic aging struggles. But not from the vantage point that I myself have already attained or that I am doing everything perfectly, even the things I write about. Because I am still climbing, I am continuing to learn how to live fruitfully “in Christ.”
What are some of the inner issues with which you deal?
Among other issues I deal with depression, fear of the unknown, the feeling of being “past tense,” disappointment in not having met our goals or fulfilled our dreams, loss of purpose for living, maintaining spiritual balance and renewal, maintaining joy when we experience the dark nights of the soul.
How about nitty-gritty issues of inevitable outward changes in advancing years?
Also those: loss of substantive roles in life, the possibility of assisted living with loss of independence, dealing with traumatic or chronic health issues, grief over loss of significant relationships, diminishing memory, the struggle to leave a meaningful legacy, dealing with adversities, and downsizing our personal possessions.
And what do you offer the reader who approaches the summit with its unknowns and final struggles with personal mortality?
Always hope. Always joyful anticipation for the crowning moment of life when we shall finally see our God in the full light of His presence! That is the moment when what I call our “earth suit” will be exchanged for our “space suit” and later for an immortal one in the resurrection of our bodies. Eye has not seen nor ear heard what glorious things God has prepared for us after we complete our summit season and experience our “lift off.”
Is there another sub-theme you have woven throughout your book?
The need for wisdom and discernment. The challenge to keep changing the things we still can change, even in our most advanced years, and the acceptance with joy and trust in God of what we cannot change. My book begins with a prayer for wisdom as we stand at the foothills of our upward summit season journey.
What is the format of this book?
I write in user-friendly bite-size topics, short life sketches, vignettes, and reflections; blog post style, you might say. Each of the 15 chapters can stand alone although each has a distinct theme.
Over 300 pages—that's a sizable book.
Originally, it was almost twice as long! I don't count words or consider length when I write my books. When I have finished saying what I consider meaningful, and after multiple editings, I stop. In this case, before going to press I had to cut it in half. I am left with “twelve baskets full of leftovers,” as Scripture describes the still tasty remnants of Jesus' multiplication of the loaves and fishes miracle. There may be another book waiting in the wings!
Are any of your books in ebooks format?
All the Trilogy books are available there, this current book in process, as well as a number of my previous titles, and more to come.