Sunday, November 30, 2014

PLUCKING DAISY PETALS

(Excerpt from Leona's book HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS!)



If I had a daisy, I'd tear the petals off one by one to determine whether I deserve this catastrophe or adversity that has come into my life: “I deserve it?..I don't deserve it!..deserve it?..I don't deserve it!...”

If I brought on my illness by my own actions, I don't want to ask for God's justice. I would be getting what I deserve. I ask for God's mercy. Spiritually, I already received God's mercy and forgiveness for my sins through repentance and trusting Christ. If I ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” am I inferring that I'm too good, too righteous, too obedient to the Lord to have anything bad happen to me? Humility in the sense of modest submissiveness, gentle, patient yieldedness to God's dealings is more appropriate for me as His trusting child. This is not spineless submission, but confident belief in my sovereign God and a commitment to conform to His best blueprint for my life.

Life is seldom fair. In fact, to use a crude term, sometimes life stinks! I have a lot to think through and work out: Is God really in charge? If He is, why does He seem so inconsistent when He allows one person to suffer and not another, when He heals this one and not that one? Why does He allow natural disasters to affect some and not others?

I believe the Scriptures teach that Satan has power, though limited, to mess up God's perfect order at this or any stage of history. Satan tries to thwart God's plans, but God is in ultimate control even over Satan's continual infernal attempts at disorder. I believe that God generously gave mankind freedom of will to choose God's way or reject it to follow our own. Nevertheless, God knows what will happen. Sometimes He supernaturally intervenes on behalf of His people. Sometimes He doesn't.

Sometimes He allows us to be targets of evil people, bad genes, dangerous viruses, or natural disasters without intervening. In the book of Hebrews chapter eleven there is a list of some who escaped tragedies and experienced miracles. But a dreadful list follows of equally godly people who endured incredible sufferings. They were tortured, imprisoned, mocked, beaten, stoned, sawn in half, stabbed, ill-treated, and stripped of everything for Jesus' sake. Such conditions continue across the world today.

God doesn't act on a whim or sometimes look the other way with indifference. He doesn't draw straws to see who should escape and who should suffer, who should get cancer at 35 and who should live a robust life beyond the age of 95. He doesn't do daisy petal plucking to determine His actions.

Man's mistakes or deliberate acts of evil can affect other people and conditions on this planet, which in turn affect me. But of this I am sure—God is good! His dealings with me are for good and not evil. “'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 19:11). Whatever good or evil comes into the life of one committed to follow God, even as part of the human condition, is not accidental. I have finite understanding. If I never discover the reason for my illness or adversity, I'll understand it when I put aside my “earth suit” (my mortal body) and arrive in God's presence.

I believe that God is involved in the minutia of human activity, incredible as that seems, because Jesus, the Son of God, said so. He stated that the very hairs of our head are numbered and He even knows when a sparrow falls. Therefore, I believe that my present circumstances aren't random happenings. If I could understand perfectly, I would be God—and I am not.

The whole scenario may seem inconsistent and out-of-control to my way of thinking, but it is perfectly consistent from God's infinite perspective. The point is not that God will be sovereign some day, meanwhile evil forces and human actions are messing up His plans. Our God reigns now! (Psalm 93:1) Everywhere! Always! Since I've voluntarily given Him my life, He reigns and He is sovereign in my present trouble.

This mortal life is not all there is! If it were, I'd feel short-changed and cheated. Life is so brief. We barely get started and gain a little experience when we hear the final bell ring. Nor is human history all there is. I should look at my miniature infirmity or adversity, although it seems enormous to me, against the backdrop of eternity. Not easy, but that's the only way I can gain proper perspective and find the stability I need to endure even the worst that life may inflict. Our God stands above all human history and is weaving it into a beautiful tapestry that will ultimately glorify Him.

I believe, Lord! Help my lingering unbelief and feeble trust and increase my faith. I don't get anywhere when I destroy daisy petals to find out whether I deserve my situation. It is enough to believe that You know, care, and have good plans for me.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

GAZING AT MY NAVEL


From chapter “Working My Way Through Spiritual College” in Leona's book HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS
Setting: Still in the hospital recovering from lung cancer surgery.
(Transferable concepts to whenever we may be at a low point emotionally)

I feel gray and blah, dull and numb, bleak and drab, dismal and somber. Surely I can't be of use to the Lord in this condition. I'm glad there isn't a tag clipped somewhere to my case file identifying me as a “Christian.”

I feel like drawing into my self-pity shell and licking my wounds, although I couldn't reach my tongue around to my back with its 12-inch long incision still held together with 40 tiny wire staples. I'm too tired to think or pray let alone say anything spiritual or uplifting to anyone. I'm gazing at my own navel and wallowing in my gloom. I feel forgotten and forsaken since they gave me the news that I have “The Big C.” I'm sure that if I looked up, I would see a black cloud over my head like the one in the comic strip that floats above Charlie Brown's little friend wherever he goes.

IF I looked up....

But I haven't been looking up. I've been looking down, looking inward. My chin is on my chest. Yes, I know better, but do I always have to act like a child of God? Can't I take a vacation from “being a testimony?” I can't shine for Jesus when my batteries are so low. I'd just as soon leave my light under a bushel or at least under my hospital bed for awhile so no one would see how small my flame is.

A nurse brings me today's mail and the local newspaper. I toss aside the newspaper. Who cares what's going on in the world? Even war isn't important to me, certainly not politics, the economy, or the latest fashions. I only care about my sorry condition.

I shuffle the get-well cards. Here's one from a good buddy who includes a Bible verse in her own handwriting: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:4,5). Whoa! Awesome! The Holy Spirit must have led her to send me that special zinger and caused her to mail the card four days ago to arrive exactly at my time of need!

Can I never take the phone off the hook spiritually? I know that God never hangs up on me. The Psalmist gave me good advice: “Bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). I suppose the time I spend in a hospital bed is included in “at all times.”

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I'm not radiating Jesus since I'm looking at myself and not up at Him. The ball is always in my court. Each time I've sought Him in the past He answered and delivered me. Therefore, I should know that He can deliver me again. 

All right, let's get on with it. Lord. I'm sorry for my senseless withdrawal into my shell. “I trust in Thee; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to Thee I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8). Lord, change my batteries to “EverReady” charged by Your power. After all, how much effort does it take to reflect Your light? All I need to do is face in Your direction. Since I have Your light within, I should glow automatically. 

Yes, I know all those trite expressions: Faith is best seen in dark times; the stars shine brightest on a dark night; when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Lord, please make such truths real to me. I do want to be a good “radiate-er” for You even here from my hospital bed.

Friday, November 28, 2014

ABOUT MAKING COMMENTS


Note to readers of my blog posts:


Please look at the column on the right of this home blog page to see how I suggest you make comments, if you wish.

I'm trying to make things easier for you to comment by simply emailing me at leonachoy@gmail.com

Many say they find it too complicated and frustrating to go through the maze of reading jumbled up letters (to prove that you are a human being and not an entity!?) if you want to make a comment. I agree with you!
 
Just go directly to my email even if you only want to say a few words. I will never publish anyone's name, or even publish the comment, but it reaches me. Does that help you?

IN DUE TIME...

The physically challenged white 1982 Corvette sat in the yard for years. The owner, my son, had driven it happily in the past, but was too busy now with his career to spend time restoring this collector's treasure. 

Meanwhile, snow fell on the white Corvette through many winters burying it almost out of sight at times. Torrents of rain fell on it year after year; the hot sun beat upon it for many scorching summers. Little creatures scampered in and made their nests in the engine and throughout the interior with considerable destruction.

Also in the meantime there was born unto him a son who from the age of five began to dream about driving his father's handicapped white Corvette some day. Time passed—tricycle time, bicycle time, skateboard time, and a small four-wheeler time, and the boy grew to six feet at age 15. The dream kept stirring in his heart each time he looked at the beloved white Corvette.

After much pleading of the son to the father, the father conceded that due time had come to start restoring together the physically challenged white Corvette. Delighted son and patient, skillful father began to spend many hours and days of bonding time cleaning it up, replacing critter-chewed hoses and connectors—and whatever else enables a car to move. New battery, fuel pump, inflating the tired tires, then the gutting and replacement of the whole interior. 

But before the monster job of their planned total restoration, one chilly autumn day they actually put gas in the tank and got the engine started! What a day! Photo op time! Then the father said unto the boy who was now a young man, “Let's get in. You can drive down the country road!” Due time had come! This was a foretaste of what would be the fullness of time after the young man had passed driver's ed, obtained his learner's permit, and after he became of legal age to drive. This was an appetizer—proud father and his lanky son with a sparkle in his eye finally at the wheel roared down the country road!

Good things come to those who wait for God's due time. The Scriptures are full of phrases like “...it came about in due time..., God gave them their food in due time..., in due time we will reap....” Other time-specific phrases like “in the fulness of time” are scattered throughout the Bible record of events. When our eternal God who is outside of our planet time deals with His human, mortal children, He steps into our time to accomplish His will. He rolls time along at His predestined pace. God stoops to our finite perception of time because that is all we understand until we step over into the eternal dimension when the mortal becomes immortal and time as we perceive it is no more.

Often our Eternal Father makes us wait for our due time until we have reached a certain point in maturity, until the circumstances are ripe, until all things and people are in place for His will to be done. It is then accomplished by loving cooperation between the Father and His children. 

It can be a spiritually bonding time when we learn the lessons of patience in God's waiting room. God doesn't want us impatient mortals to pick unripe fruit; nevertheless He allows us our free will. If we persist in jumping the gun to do our own will, God permits us to taste the consequences, the bitterness of the premature. As the psalmist commented, “He gave them their request but sent leanness to their souls....”

It may not be to our liking to sit around in God's waiting room for His fullness of time even when waiting for God's promises to be fulfilled. God's promises have a due date on them but their shelf life is permanent. Not to worry. They are not perishable; there is no expiration date. Father knows best. There is a time and season for all things—a time to wait, and a time to taste the delicious fruits of due time.

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.

MEET GG AND MISS MEOW

Throughout November I will be selecting excerpts from chapters of my book HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS! to introduce it to a new readership. An original sketch designed specifically for this book by gifted artist Gail Waeber opens each chapter. 

She and I created two lovable fantasy animals to scamper through the book to add a bit of humor to balance the serious matters about which I have written. May I introduce GG the bunny who is experiencing the hospital adventure, and Miss Meow, his nurse? GG is pictured again at the end of each chapter doing a “jumping jack” to offer the reader thoughtful questions titled “My Personal Workout.” The questions are equally meaningful for personal reflection and for group discussion.

Today's excerpt from the chapter, “In the Admitting Room” is titled, “What's this about pockets?”

Are you curious about the title of this book? When we enter the hospital and shed our street clothes, we discover that most of the gowns we are to wear don't have pockets. Apparently we are not expected to need anything. A sheet of instructions given before admission spells out: “Leave your valuables at home. This includes money, watch, credit cards, jewelry, and contact lenses.” When I slip into my without-pockets hospital gown, it's obvious that I can't bring my personal, educational, or professional reputation with me. No place for credentials, bank books, investment portfolio, business cards, or property deeds. No place for credit reports or references documenting my character, accomplishments, or proficiency. I'm literally stripped to bare essentials. 

My “designer gown” is the ultimate leveler of humanity. Why is this article of clothing called a “gown?” We usually think of gowns as fashionable attire for formal occasions. Surgery is about as informal as you can get!

When I lie on the operating table, I'm a generic, equal opportunity patient. What the surgical team does for me and to me doesn't depend on who I am, what I've done, or what I still hope to do. My identity doesn't matter to them beyond checking, I hope, my plastic ID bracelet to see if I'm the right body to receive the scheduled surgery.

Gowns in doctors' exam rooms are usually made of paper and disposable. They remind me that all things in life are temporary. My physical distress, too, will pass. Some gowns are like large vests with no sleeves. Some have three sleeves—for patients with three arms? Sometimes the nurse tells me to put the unmanageable thing on with the opening at the back, sometimes at the front, depending on what the doctor wants to peer at or poke. Some are street-length paper gowns without fasteners. Never with pockets!

Hospital gowns are hardly more fashionable than exam room gowns, although made of cloth and more durable. Sometimes they are white, drab green, or blue. Some have a tiny logo of the admitting hospital in an overall design. Hospital gowns apparently start out with strings to tie, but more often than not at least one string is missing. I wonder who is being treated so roughly? In the shortie gowns I'm exposed and drafty on my backside.

I confess that during my periodic x-rays as an outpatient during recovery years, I wore a gown or two that did have pockets. Never mind—they weren't hospital gowns. A friend told me that her special issue hospital gown had a pocket right in front center for carrying a heart monitor. I'll concede that exception, but I didn't want to change my title as this book was going to press!
****
ORDER THIS BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS GIVING AT THE DISCOUNT BELOW AND GET THE FREE BONUS BOOK!

BOOK REVIEW and DISCOUNT OFFERED

Hospital Gowns Don't Have Pockets!

Why Me? What Now? Struggling with Physical Affliction

by Leona Choy

                         "Nobody doesn't need this book!"

Leona explores meaning in physical affliction for the Christian. The principles equally apply to illnesses that don't necessarily lead to hospitalization. The author takes the reader from initial questions and struggles of illness through "hospital adventures" and all the way through the potholes and adjustments of recovery. At the end of each chapter, the author offers thoughtful "Personal Workout" questions for reflection or group discussion based on topics just covered. Ideal for a support group or personal study.

The reader will explore questions like: Who caused my illness, God or Satan? What did I do to deserve this? Can God heal me? Will He? Should I exercise faith, oppose the devil, and refuse to accept my illness? Could my life be over? Is this a test from God? What's the worst case scenario? For what purpose might God be bringing this experience into my life? Is my illness a friend or an enemy? Why does God seem so far away when I need Him most? What if I can't get through this?

The author maintains that God has a purpose for every experience He permits us to go through. She includes a "Back of the Book" section for readers to make sure their faith in God is intact when they march through hospital doors. Also included are forms for Living Will decisions and other valuable resources.

A major part of the book deals with the RECOVERY period in which the author shares sound biblical, practical, psychological, and health counsel with a hint of humor. "What ifs" are met head on. No pussy-footing over questions like "What happens if I have to live an un-whole life without freedom from pain for the rest of my life?" "How can I please God and be useful to Him gazing at the ceiling from my bed?"

The author knows how to walk in hospital slippers. Her first encounter with the O.R. was a "biggy"--lung cancer surgery--"out of the blue." A life-changing learning experience, she claims in hindsight, that God has used for His glory in her life and in the lives of many people.

The text is enhanced by the cartoon-like illustrations of artist Gail Waeber, who created "GG the Bunny" especially for Leona's book. He hops through the pages with the reader attended by "Miss Meow" the nurse--a charming, light touch for a book that struggles through serious matters.

Some chapter titles are: Jumping Over Hurdles; No Wheeling or Dealing; Dancing in Bed; Are We Having Fun Yet? Going Through Spiritual College; Is There Life After Hospital?; Oil in My Water; Bench Warming Lessons; Can I Add Cubits?
An invaluable volume for . . . everyone you know!

Originally in paperback $16.95
Only $11 plus s/h during November 2014

ISBN 1-889283-04-5
Order by email: leonachoy@gmail.com
 FREE with every order of the above book!
Leona's 80 page "A Taste Of...." book: Are You Mad at Me, God? Jumping Illness Hurdles setting forth important first spiritual principles of working through an illness. This smaller book contains the identical first five chapters from the larger book, Hospital Gowns.

View Leona's blog regularly. Throughout November she will be posting excerpts from this book to give you "appetizers!"

Monday, November 10, 2014

FACING PHYSICAL DISTRESS


I know that God is not “The Great Puppeteer in the Sky” who pulls strings to either make us jump His way or let us fall in a slump heap. It seems incredible that God decided to give free will to humankind. God is no pusher or manipulator. He doesn't invade my life against my will. I can even resist God's work in my life, if I choose.

The fact is, when I opened my heart and surrendered my life to Him years ago, I gave Him permission to work me over into whatever pattern He originally planned for me. Year after year, morning by morning, I've consciously reaffirmed His Lordship:

I choose You, Jesus Christ, as Lord of my life. Reign as King with full authority over my body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions and will. Rule over all that I am, all that I have, all that You have so graciously given me. I accept You as Lord over every relationship, responsibility, appetite, and ambition.
Bring into my life today everything and only whatever and whomever You will—in person, by letter, phone call, email, thought, impression, prayer, event, or circumstance. Therefore, may I recognize that interruptions and changes are not accidental or incidental, but my opportunities and Your appointments for my good and for Your glory.

“Okay, God, I know You are not an intruder in the negative sense. I know that I gave You permission to do as You will in my life. But this physical trial certainly seems to have interrupted important things I had on the drawing board of my life. Here I am, flat on my back in the hospital after cancer surgery. I'm challenged to internalize my faith in Your sovereignty and goodness for bringing this seeming misfortune into my life. It doesn't look like a blessing from this horizontal posture. No, I don't want to renege on my surrender and grab the steering wheel from my passenger side. I acknowledge You as the driver in control.

But Lord, couldn't You have made Your point just as clearly with some handwriting on the wall of my kitchen? Or by speaking through a burning bush in my yard? Did you have to use such a drastic measure as cancer? I think I would have listened to You...
Well, maybe I wouldn't have...probably not...not in the same way as I hear You now while staring at the ceiling of Room 12 in the surgical wing of University Hospital hooked up to all these wires and tubes and breathing apparatus.

(Excerpt from Chapter 8 “Working My Way Through Spiritual College” from Leona Choy's book “HOSPITAL GOWNS DON'T HAVE POCKETS! Why Me? What Now? Discovering Meaning in Physical Distress.”)

For the rest of November, Leona will regularly post excerpts from this book on her blog as "appetizers." At the same time, this 314 page book originally priced at $15.95 is available for ONLY $11 a copy plus s/h! Order multiple copies for CHRISTMAS GIVING! Hurry and contact Leona at leonachoy@gmail.com.

Nobody Doesn't Need This Book!

Like it or not, some kind of medical or surgical adventure probably waits around the corner for you or your significant others. Or you are already a veteran in the School of Physical Trials. Cheer up! Hospitals are not only ideal BODY SHOPS for repair but excellent CLASSROOMS for soul-searching and life evaluation. This book is not only for first-timers who, like Leona, suddenly faced cancer or surgery, but also for graduate students in the schools of chronic illness and pain.

Friday, November 7, 2014

THE IMMEASURABLE MORE





I stand knee deep in water
pleasant, shallow at low tide.
At least I am in it—
so why am I not satisfied?

I look out on the vast expanse
of ocean dotted with bobbing sails
beckoning to me, teasing me
tugging at my yearning to taste
the immeasurable MORE.

I wade around engrossed in studying
my manual on “The Art of Sailing.”
I have listened with shameless envy
to accounts of others who have
hoisted their private sails. 

I pen poems from my imagination
describing by proxy the invigoration
of *The Wind in midstream.
I have highly recommended The Wind
and sailing skills to others
but I continue sloshing around
aimlessly in discontent
wading, waiting—for what?

Finally an empty boat floats near.
The mast is bare but oars are there
so I climb in, push off at last!

Then I sweat and strain
toiling with soulish energy
rowing in foolish circles.
Is this what it’s all about?
Other boats sail effortlessly by
propelled by An Unseen Power.

A folded piece of sailcloth
lies limply in the bottom of the boat
like my disappointed spirit.
The Wind whips against my face
inviting me, drawing me
stirring the depths of my being.

What is this immeasurable MORE?
How shall I capture The Wind
to billow my sail?
I yield to HimHe captures me
and we leave the shore
for a Distant Destiny
heading to the Land of MORE!
 ****
*THE WIND...the Holy Spirit

                                         John 3:8 and Acts 2:1-4

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WRITING WITH CROOKED LINES


No one is without trials, adversities, struggles, and losses. Our lives often look to us like the scribblings of a child who is just learning to write—nothing but crooked lines without meaning. The crooked lines in our lives are the common trials, conflicts, disappointments, and hard knocks that beset all of us at times. We may feel that they beset us all of the time. 

Saint Peter reminds us in his first epistle, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” I guess we should be surprised if everything in our lives is going too smoothly.

In the midst of such hardships and misfortunes, I desperately want to pull aside the curtain and find out why such things are going on. What did I do to deserve this? What does God have in mind by taking me through such things? Are they simply random happenings? I admit that I am spiritually nearsighted. I can't see beyond the trials. They are too much with me, I take them personally. That's when trust has to kick in.

I tend to recite so glibly, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). If I really believe that, what seems to me to be so obviously bad or evil must be part of God's process of somehow transforming me into the image of His Son. It is not for punishment but for testing. I need to determine to trust God's goodness.

I must look upon irritations then as invitations to grow, just as sand in the shell of an oyster is working toward a pearl. The obstacles I face must really be hidden opportunities of some sort. When I ask God about them, so often He seems to be silent. That's when I must refuse to trust my human ears and listen to the ears of my heart. God is not noisy when He works but that doesn't mean He is not working in my life.

Progress in spiritual matters happens through struggle in the same way that a butterfly-in-process needs both time and struggle to achieve the transformation from a worm into a creature of beauty and flight. If I try to cut short that process, I will abort its life. If I resist God's sandpaper work in my life, or insist on shortening the process before He is finished working in me, I will miss the purpose of His process.

It is said that God writes straight with crooked lines. An artist draws beautiful works of art with crooked lines. God didn't take Joseph in the Old Testament story directly from being a youthful dreamer to the highest position in a nation by one straight line. There were pit and prison experiences and many other crooked lines before God's process was accomplished for his life, for a nation, for his family's rescue, for the national heritage that God was effecting through Joseph's trials.

Without question, God is up to something in each of our lives through the seemingly crooked lines He is drawing in them. Peter says that the end result is “sharing the sufferings of Christ” and that we are to “keep on rejoicing so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.The word “exultation” translates into big time celebration, whooping it up, whirling about, dancing in circles, expressing extreme joy and elation.

That's going to take some practice!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

SELF INTERVIEW FOR NEW BOOK RELEASE

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.