Thursday, July 28, 2016




Must I painfully endure the blast of industrial noise in the name of progress, the clank and bang of construction with pneumatic jack hammers, air compressors, dump trucks, bulldozers, loaders, cement trucks, and pavement breakers that seem to be everywhere in crowded urban areas?

A move to the suburbs? That simply substitutes one environmental noise for another. There is the deafening whirr and roar of power lawnmowers. I've heard of “environmentally friendly vegetation management.” Someone started a business called “Goats-R-Us.” They lease “Soft and Silent Machines” with four legs and horns that don't honk which are guaranteed to take care of lawns or fields. In the process they consume most of the things one would normally take to the dumpster!

Some people wear noise-cancelling headphones and walk around in zombie-like silence oblivious to everything and everyone around them.

Others pay big money for vacation trips to escape to some quiet corner of the world only to discover that there is no silence on Fantasy Island.

In the search for silence, some corporations install quiet “nap pods” for the use of executives and employees during break time. Some hotel chains designate quiet floors; certain hospitals mandate “quiet time” for an hour or two daily in an effort toward healing and rest. The practice has met with enthusiastic response from patients. Daycare centers include quiet times to counter the constant hubbub of active young children.

Our search for mental repose may lead to the purchase of noise cancellation headphones which emit opposing sound waves to mask noise. One could go the cheaper route of earplugs. Virtually soundproof rooms with carpeted walls, ceilings, and floors are in demand for installation in certain buildings. Anechoic chambers have been experimented with to test whether human beings can exist in absolute silence. So far the results have been negative and far from healthful—no one seems to be able to endure complete absence of sound very long before panic sets in. I recently heard about noise-masking machines to distract our ears by emitting a drone-like monotonous hum.

Well then, can laws force silence? The EPA has determined that noise above 55 decibels outdoors and 45 decibels indoors is detrimental to concentration and work production. It's a fact that noise levels of more than 100 decibels are the norm on today’s dance floors! I heard of a rock music festival that tried out a “silent disco.” Everyone wore wireless headphones to individually hear the music and partied until dawn without disturbing nearby residents. Activist groups rally to increase awareness of noise pollution; they lobby to fight it by trying to adopt noise codes. Community planners erect sound barriers along heavy traffic highways to deaden the never-ending, nerve-racking honking, roar, blare, rumble, and screech of commuters and freight transport.

Complete silence may not really exist. But in an effort to find it, a park outside Los Angeles offered a two-hour silent hike to “let nature speak for itself.” However, even our God-created natural world is surprisingly noisy. Living creatures buzz, chirp, croak, squawk, cackle, screech, hoot, bellow, moo, and whinny but such noises don’t seem to assault our mental state as much as mechanical sounds.

Could we go out into space to find quiet? Science tells us that the universe is not silent either! It makes its own unique sounds.
Should I try to isolate myself in my search for quiet and tranquility? Being alone may not bring the kind of peace I'm looking for either—solitary confinement, after all, is a punishment in our prison system. Pure silence even makes some people uncomfortable. The minute they come into their homes or cars they switch on the radio or TV. Children today are conditioned to do their homework with loud, raucous background music and seem unable to concentrate when it is quiet.

In the unlikely absence of all extraneous noise, we can still hear our own heartbeats and the vibrations in our eardrums. Those afflicted with the stress of tinnitus or constant ringing in the ears find that complete quiet is never possible. Nor can any of us escape from voices in our heads that are constantly carrying on muffled conversations.

Can't I go to bed and sleep soundly as a last resort to achieve silence? Ah, but I'm told that our ears never completely switch off sounds even while we sleep; the brain still registers noise! I hear things while sleeping that in the normal course of daily life are drowned out. If a spouse snores, we lie awake and our nighttime blood pressure spikes!


The cacophony of the TV-shaped world
distracts my soul, muffles important thoughts,
threatens my spirit with perpetual commotion.
Buzzes, drones, babble and jabber
of nine-to-five dins and distractions
keep me from hearing myself think.

The high decibel level of external racket
injures my sensitive inner spirit.
I long for the silent slots
between the roaring, roiling surf
and the cry of gliding gulls,
away from blaring boom boxes
nerve-jangling clamor
and raucous background bedlam.

I yearn to bask in the selected silence
of my treasured space within,
tune into its buoyant joy,
revel in its simple serenity.
I need a still-point at my center
to sense what is happening
in the inner chamber of my heart,
a place where I can freely retreat,
be at home with my tender spirit,
and in touch with the Spirit of God.

I learn from silence:
It is a patient teacher
nourishing me to become wise.
Silence is a welcoming harbor
beckoning me to anchor my soul.
In silence I feel quickened and alive,
bathed in its tranquil quality,
a strange and beautiful dimension.
In silence I am alert to the voice of God
unheard by ears near-deaf to peace.

The cosmic rhythm of God
alternates between sound and silence,
majestic words and universal hush:
The Creator broke the interstellar silence
with His thundering, creative word
or was His whisper loud enough?
Then He rested in serene satisfaction
declaring, to whom? “It is good!”

The unfathomable silences of God
are mysterious and frustrating,
consoling, yet withholding understanding,
filled with hidden meaning
requiring my full trust and respect,
even when I can’t hear God.
The One Who is called The Word
does not always speak aloud,
and I do not always listen.

But if my ears are open to hear,
His silence is as eloquent
as when Jesus stood before Pilate,
quiet, answering not, but distinctly heard.
I protect my patches of silence
snatches between the press and stress
of the mandatory and obligatory.
I guard them jealously,
run eagerly to my times of silence.

I find them in the ordinary:
when dawn breaks quietly
as I watch in hushed wonder,
when evening shadows steal in
and I lay tasks and burdens aside,
when I’m wrapped in the blanket of darkness.
I stand in awe and lift my mortal eyes
gazing beyond the starry skies.
It is then I hear in the pregnant stillness
the unmistakable voice of God.
        Leona Choy

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Time concerns me, especially in the final summit season of my life. I'm conscious of my mortality, of the end of earth-time itself, and of my earth-time in particular.

Man differs from animals in that God created him with an awareness of the passing of time and the limitation of the human life span. Realizing its brevity, I question, How shall I invest my life to make the best use of the time I have left?

This thought sent me on a search to ask, “What is time?” Time is said to be a dimension and measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future; also the measure of sequence, duration of events, and the intervals between them. Someone has observed, "Time is what keeps everything from happening at once." 
With our finite minds we don't really understand what time is nor do we know what time it is according to God's sovereign time schedule. We can't even use our five senses or apply the scientific method to experience time, yet we are subject to it. Time is invisible and illusive like the wind. We can only see the consequences of time in our face reflected in the mirror or in the faces of our family and friends and in changes in the material world around us.

Although we can't accurately define time, apparently we can waste time, invest time, pass the time away, kill time, find time, be on time, lose time, save time, and measure time. I can be short of time and out of time; there can be a convenient time, an appointed time, an acceptable time, and leisure time. People do time in prison. Some of us are in prime time. There is a departure time for planes, trains—and people. There is a last time and a time of judgment. Isn't it incredible that God who is outside of time acts in the fullness of time? And that He expects us to redeem the time? 
According to the Genesis record, our eternal no-time God established time at the creation of Planet Earth to measure the days. “Evening and morning were the first day....” Since that time, we who live on on this whirling ball are subject to space and time. Sometimes we get impatient and think God is too slow to answer our prayers. With King David in the Psalms we cry, “It is time for Thee, O Lord, to work...” At times we would like to accelerate time, at other times to slow it down. 

God deals with us in our time frame in an orderly way. The Scriptures declare, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every purpose under heaven. There is a time to give birth, a time to die, to plant, to uproot, kill, heal....” Twenty-eight time-events are listed in the book of Ecclesiastes that encompass most of life. 
In His incarnate human body, although Jesus was the eternal Son of God, He was aware at certain times that His “time had not yet fully come,” and later that “My time is at hand.” The devil was able to accelerate time during his temptation of Jesus by showing him “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.”

Since time began, temporal measurements have occupied scientists and philosophers, those who study astronomy, and those who navigate. In an effort to understand time, man observed the movement of the sun across the sky, the phases of the moon, the movement of the stars, the swing of a pendulum, and the beat of a heart.

From prehistoric times, man has tried to divide the day in many ways: by using oil lamps, marked candles, sun dials, water clocks, sand hour glasses, and eventually ingenious astronomical clocks. It's hard to believe that mechanical clocks were not invented until as recently as 1275. On my visits to my heritage homeland in the Czech Republic, it was an awesome experience to see the famous Astronomical Clock in the city square in Prague (pictured above).
Not until 1884 was an agreement reached on global time measurement and Greenwich Mean Time adopted as the international standard. Today we rely on atomic clocks for our most accurate measurements of time. Few of us know that the international unit of time, the second, is defined in terms of radiation emitted by caesium atoms.

In the not too distant past, you had to go to the public square to find out what time it was! Eventually, when clocks were designed smaller, they came into domestic use, then personal use as pocket watches, then wrist watches—now we tell time on our cell phones! Who knows what kind of time-measurement devices lie in the near future?

Now that we are able to measure time accurately, what have we achieved? We can't control time. We are at its mercy—we can't stop the clock, slow it, or reverse it. It took time for us to be formed in our mother's womb, we were born in due time, and we age in time. Although we live in time right now, eternity without time is ahead of us. There must have been a non-time, a time before it was, and the Scriptures tell us that there will be a time when time shall be no more.

My mortal body is subject to the corruption of earthly time. My soul (spirit) is not subject to time; it is eternal. My ordained length of time on earth is given me by God to cultivate for eternity.


God gave me a measure
of time for my treasure,
a slight but generous slice
from an endless eternity.

If I embrace time selfishly
I lose it eventually.
If I surrender it entirely
to The Great Timekeeper
I find time for all
that in His perfect will
God planned for me.

My times, O Lord,
are in Your hands.
Each breath I take,
each beat of my heart
like the tick of a clock
is a portion of eternity
minutes loaned by God to me
that I might redeem the time.

Fantastic thought!
God has chosen me
for this moment in history,
actually destined me
to leave a mark for Him
upon some hearts on this earth
as I pass through this span of time
that is called my generation!
“As for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord,
I say, 'Thou art my God.
 My times are in Thy hand.'"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I was not born with a body type that would help me in tryouts for cheerleading in high school! That's an understatement! Oh, how I envied the kids who made it as cheerleaders.

To jump around in synchronized formation waving pompoms and shouting rah-rah slogans to rev up the crowd at sports events and inspire and energize the players on the field—that was the ultimate in my dreams. When my now-mother-of-two granddaughter Kara was in junior high, how proud I was when she became a cheerleader!

Well, I guess God “heard” the dreams of my heart. When I grew up and answered God's call to mission work which led me to many countries and various ministries, among the spiritual gifts God provided to do His work was—believe it or not—the gift of cheerleading!

It is a gift which is integrated with other ministry gifts such as encouragement, exhortation, building people up in the faith, affirming them, praying for them, lifting them up when they are despondent or weak, teaching, comforting, consoling. In the Scriptures it is expressed through both the tangible and spiritual works of mercy. In short, cheerleading is a “Barnabas gift.” Barnabas?

If it had not been for Barnabas, there might not have been an Apostle Paul! Barnabas started out by being the cheerleader for a needy new convert to the fledgling Christian faith. The apostles of Jesus and the early Christian community in Jerusalem didn't trust that fresh convert who was widely known as their enemy “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” and dragging both men and women off to jail. (Acts 9:1,2) “When he was trying to associate with the disciples, they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple” (9:26, 27).

That could have been the end of the story. Period. There would have been no early Christian missionary travels to preach the gospel widely and win converts, defend the faith, and establish new churches. We would be without letters of instruction to the early churches and their leadership, which became a major portion of our New Testament canon.

Enter “Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas [a nickname] by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement).” A man of proven character and reputation in the early Church, he put his own reputation on the line to vouch for that young unlikely convert. “But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles” and testified to the veracity of his story of conversion. He bore witness that Paul “was now speaking out boldly in the name of Jesus.” (9:27).

Barnabas obviously had the gift of exhortation and the ability to inspire others in the faith. He didn't stop with merely introducing Paul, but followed him up, taking the chance to call him from Tarsus to join him in encouraging and building up the growing Church at Antioch. That Church in turn sent them together on evangelization mission trips. They made repeated return trips to encourage the new churches. The rest, as they say, is history.

Later we find Barnabas again vouching for and encouraging his young dropout nephew John Mark by giving him a second chance in mission work. The result? God eventually used the mature and seasoned John Mark to write the second Gospel! According to early Christian tradition we find Barnabas again exercising his gift of encouragement to found the Church in Cyprus, his home city. Wherever Barnabas went God used him as a cheerleader!

I love my cheerleading Barnabas gift! I can exercise it in person, by prayer, and through my writing. Thank You, Lord. There is no greater gift that I could desire. All of us who know the Lord have within reach personally and through social media many people who need our gift of cheerleading/encouragement. God networks people together for a reason.

He brings us through certain life experiences so we can encourage and comfort others and build them up in the faith. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6) This is not a flashy gift, but a largely hidden and behind-the-scenes personal ministry with results that reproduce themselves in the lives of others. Only God knows whether there might be a potential Apostle Paul or a John Mark who would not become who God destined them to be without my Barnabas cheerleading—and yours!

And where would I be without those who are cheering me on?

Monday, July 25, 2016


“Keep on keeping on!” As the days, months, decades, and scores of calendar years roll by, this counsel seems to be foremost on my mind. 

I'm aware that I need to be steady, to stay faithful, and continue in the firm direction God has been leading me for a lifetime. No deviation. No detour. No lagging behind in the course ahead for the rest of the way on my earthly journey.I am committed.

According to the words of Jesus, “No man [or woman] putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). I'm not agriculturally oriented and the illustration seems a bit strange to me—the average farmer today would be using a mechanized plow, probably high tech and huge. Even a home gardener would likely have a plow with a self-propelled engine, a far cry from what a plow was like in Jesus' day. Nevertheless, a plow of any sort, even one that is horse drawn, requires some hands-on guidance, eyes looking forward focused on some point ahead so that the plow would stay on course.

The “looking back” warning would seem to imply that if we look back in regret that we put our hand to the plow in the first place, we are not sincere and worthy disciples. If we continue to plow while looking back over our shoulder to what might have been if we had chosen otherwise, the consequence is that we will plow a crooked row. At best we might be laughed at or ridiculed; at worst we would be poor role models for others on our common journey to the Kingdom of Heaven.

If the journey of life has turned out to be a long one, it is a loving gift and blessing from the Lord. At the same time, it becomes an endurance test because of increasing physical challenges, often illnesses, and diminishing strength. Personally, I have never regretted putting my hand to the plow while in my youth and committing myself to Jesus Christ and His will for my life. I don't look back in that sense, although an occasional glance backward brings regrets that I haven't been as faithful and as quick to obey Him as I should have been. God has always been faithful. The apostle Paul strongly advised, “forgetting what lies behind.”

However, I admit that my hand holding the plow handle is not as steady as it was in my youth nor as strong as in my prime years. Actually, my physical hand is a little shaky. I have to be on the alert that my spiritual strength doesn't lose its stamina as I hold on to the faith plow. I'm referring to spiritual staying power for the long haul.

For those of us who have been on life's journey for a long time, it isn't really that easy anymore to grip the plow handle with a strong grasp. It's much easier to begin to drift spiritually, to wobble in our walk, to become lax in standing tall for the faith principles and actions for which we so firmly stood in years gone by. It's a slippery slope when we begin to “lose our first love” (Revelation 2:1-7) for the Lord and let our devotion to Him become routine. We need a warning bell to tell us when the fire in our hearts that flamed so brightly in the flush of our first love fades into barely glowing embers. We may be the last to notice from whence we have fallen, but others are aware of it. And the Lord knows when our ardor for Him cools.

I do want to be “fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.” I will enter that Kingdom entirely by God's grace and the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. But I don't want to lose the prize of His high calling by failing to plow a straight furrow all the way to life's Finish Line without looking back. I want to reach forward and upward keeping my eyes on what is Up Ahead. I want to persevere. I want to hang on, hold on, persist, to prevail, to attain. I want to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

But it grows more difficult to stay the course as my strength and stamina decreases. With John the Baptist I declare, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” My adequacy is not in myself but in God.” “His power is perfected in my weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9,10). “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses.” 

So if I become faint and weary and my hand on the plow handle becomes too weak to hold on tightly, I must ask the Lord to put His hand over my hand and infuse His strength into me. That's the bottom line.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


From the TV reruns, if not in the long ago black and white original movie series, the Lone Ranger and his horse Silver were never alone. His faithful and able companion Tonto always had his back. 

He was there to rescue the Ranger when he got into trouble in the process of doing the good deeds for which he was famous. The duo were every kid's heroes in neighborhood games as they rode imaginary horses, shouting "Hi Ho Silver" and pretending to bring the bad guys to justice.

Too many Christians pretend they are “Lone Rangers” and try to go it alone when they experience trouble or problems in life—and who doesn't? They seem reluctant to call on any Tontos to help them. As a result, they are easily discouraged and feel helpless in their weakness. All the while there is help available, someone to shoulder their burdens and call upon Heavenly assistance with them. They might feel that it's a virtue to bear one's burdens alone by gritting their teeth and enduring their difficulties in a solitary way.

I can understand the desire for privacy and sympathize with those of a shy temperament who by nature are disinclined to let others know about their illnesses, broken relationships, or needs of various kinds. Nevertheless, a hallmark of the Christian faith is the body-ness, the unity of the Church which is called the Body of Christ. As the parts of a human body work together and are interdependent, each part helping the other parts, the stronger helping the weaker, so we are clearly told in Scripture, “Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). That law is the law of Love, the love of Christ to us, our love of Christ, and the love of each of us for one another. Jesus made it plain, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you” (John 13:34,35). He said that is how all men would recognize us as His disciples.

The outworking of that love is the privilege and joy of being “Tontos” to one another so that none of us need be a “Lone Ranger.” We do that first of all by praying for each other's burdens, not by isolating ourselves and trying to bear our burdens alone with a stiff upper lip. We are in the Body of Christ to help one another.

On an average, according to the automatic blog record that appears daily on my computer, there are about 2000 plus views per month of my simple posts. By and large, I don't know the majority of my viewers unless they respond with a comment or email me. My blog also automatically tells me in what countries my viewers live. I don't know how they find my blog. In the awesome networking of the Holy Spirit, at times someone far or near whom I don't even know writes me sharing his or her heart and requesting prayer for their difficulties or burdens.

WHAT A DELIGHT THIS IS TO ME! It always makes my day! In time we may even become friends, although we may never meet face to face until in Heaven! Of course in my “Tonto” capacity, I eagerly pray for them bringing their request to God in Jesus' Name. This is a great privilege. I respect their privacy, of course, and truly, truly welcome all such requests.

In turn, sometimes I ask certain Christian friends whom I unofficially call my “Praying Eagles” or “First Responders” to pray for me for some specific matter. They are my “Tontos.” And I appreciate greatly that they have my back.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


You might never suspect it of me, but curbing my emotional impulsiveness is something with which I've struggled most of my life. 

I'm quite good at "jumping to conclusions" so I continue to need wait training. It has nothing to do with the pumping iron kind of weight training. Or calorie counting for weight control.

Believe it or not, I tend too easily and quickly to vent my feelings. In this advanced season of my life that habit seems to be well-ingrained. I assume that my matriarchal status gives me a right to be outspoken and to give advice even when it may not be welcome or called for. I admit to times when I want to complain to someone about what that person did that didn’t please me or neglected to do something I expected. I could try to whitewash it and call it righteous indignation. Nevertheless, being too quick to speak is still a negative character trait.

Since I wrongly take for granted that I'm usually right, I'm inclined to make it known. By nature, however, I’m not really a confrontational person, especially not face to face. As a writer, I’d much rather send off a letter. That gives me a chance to craft my complaint, state my case logically and carefully point by point as if I were in a court of law. Snail mail is far too slow these days. With the ease of email I can spout off instantly while I'm still hot under the collar.

Oh, the trouble I’ve gotten into and the embarrassment I’ve suffered time and again by impulsively sending off a missive which in the end turns out to be a deadly missile when it reaches its destination! The dictionary tells me that a missile is “an object or weapon that is thrown, shot, or otherwise propelled to a target.” A message I quickly send off in the heat of my emotions, especially with a backdrop of perception before I have all the facts, can be more lethal than a hand grenade. It has the potential to mortally wound a friendship or a relationship. It isn't a guided missile since I had not waited patiently to be guided by the Lord before I sent it.

God has had me in wait training most of my life in respect to my venting-and-sending written words too soon or speaking words prematurely. The latter are even more damaging since they were spontaneous and I can't retract them. In Proverbs I read, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken [by inference, written] in right circumstances.” In the book of James the writer warns, “The tongue is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.”

I'm not advocating holding in my emotions; totally suppressing them has pressure-cooker dangers. In the Psalms, David gave us a preemptive example to follow: “I will pour out my complaint before God; I declare my trouble before Him.” Ah, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. Vent is a good four letter word, but wait is its healthy counterpart.

Through long years of experience in making mistakes in this area of speaking or writing something hastily or rashly, I’ve found what works for me. However, sometimes I still come dangerously close to transgressing again. An occasion arose when I was really miffed. I felt that I had every right to complain to someone about an unfair situation that involved my feelings. I sat down at my sometimes overly user-friendly computer, and set about venting my feelings through my fingers on the keyboard with the full intention of sending off the email immediately to the person involved. I rapidly wrote two steamy pages. I spell-checked, outlined my points, underlined, cap-lettered for emphasis, and edited it several times until I was satisfied I had spoken my piece eloquently and presented my case flawlessly. Let the chips fall where they may—the person deserved every sentence.

I sat back and blew out my breath. Well, here it goes! But somehow I was held back from clicking Send. An unseen but clearly felt hand seemed to restrain me. Perhaps it was my Guardian Angel. (He is probably exhausted and frustrated with his incredibly long and arduous life assignment of bringing me to my senses.)

“Wait!” There was no mistaking the impression. “Be patient. Click Save instead.” Okay, I guess I could send it out after lunch. “That’s not all—pray for her. And pour out your complaint before God.”

Reluctantly I obeyed. I actually waited one day, two days. The emotional fire in my furnace cooled.

On the third day my target person surprised me by emailing me. With caring and warmth she laid out an entirely different scenario for the situation between us that had precipitated my boiler eruption. I had misunderstood, jumped to conclusions, and read between the lines when there was nothing there to read! Because of my impulsiveness, I could have lost a relationship that was precious and holy!

Venting is necessary to relieve my emotional pressure; holding in my feelings isn't healthy. Writing down my feelings is a good outlet, an escape valve, as long as I don’t send the missive immediately. Complaining is permitted, if I do it to God alone. Waiting a while is always wise.

O Lord, please don’t give up on me. Keep me in your wait training class for as long as I need it. And reward my Guardian Angel with an extra slice of ANGEL Food cake for his coffee break at a “celestial STARbucks.” Time and again he has restrained me from doing or saying some things that could have been more serious than egg on my face.


I’ve heard several versions of this story. The location details  vary, but the point of the true story is always consistent. 

During the bombing of London in World War II, many young children were temporarily sent off to the English countryside to live in safety with rural families until the danger of aerial attacks on the cities would pass. They had experienced "the terror by night" of Psalm 91:5.

Everyone was living in austerity and food supply was rationed. The children were fretful, nervous, and distraught by separation from their parents and families. Their sleep was filled with nightmares. Although they were provided with food during the daylight hours, at night they seemed fearful that there might not be anything for them to eat in the morning.

Their surrogate caring families finally found a loving way to alleviate their anxiety. Although they had eaten dinner, and their tummies were full, at bedtime their hosts gave each child a substantial hunk of bread to hold in his hands through the night. Thus the young ones were assured that they would have something in the morning. If they awakened during the night, the assurance of being able to touch and taste and smell the bread gave them the comfort they needed. It was a "pacifier" to bring them peace through the dark night.

I tried to build on that analogy in my life. Upon going to bed, I deliberately “hold” a piece of spiritual Bread in my heart and mind in order to “eat” it during the night if I awaken and to comfort and assure me that I will be kept safely through the night with the provision of our Heavenly Father. It becomes my "spiritual pacifier."
That "piece of Bread" might be a phrase from a Bible verse I select from my nightly Scripture readings. Or even one word that has some spiritual impact for me. Or a phrase from a hymn or a few words from a prayer. Something to sink my spiritual teeth in, to chew on by repeating over and over with my lips or in my mind in silent contemplation--some portion of fresh bread to hold on to through the night. A bedtime snack, as it were. 

David the Psalmist-King repeatedly mentioned how during the day and then all through the night he meditated on his bed about God and His goodness. "I will bless the Lord who has counseled me, indeed, my mind instructs me in the night, I have set the Lord continually before flesh also will dwell securely" (Psalm 16:7-9).

What I think about just prior to drifting off to sleep is incredibly critical. It becomes part of my subconscious and even affects my dreams. Unfortunately, my lifelong habit has been to read myself toward drowsiness, sometimes with light fiction so as not to tax my brain too heavily and prevent the onset of deep, quality sleep. I confess that I’ve too often read far into the night, even beyond midnight, enticed by a dramatic novel. I’ve tried to break that habit and make my last thoughts before bedtime the kind that focus on God, my Provider and Sustainer, and His words, which make for a much more peaceful night.

As Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” so I ask our Heavenly Father to guide me in choosing just the right piece of nightly bread before bedtime each night to sustain me. Jesus declared Himself the Bread of Life. With my mind anchored upon Him and His Word, such nourishment truly becomes “Wonder Bread.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Living Through the “Not Yet”

Sometimes I feel as if I'm waiting for God to act and He seems to be doing nothing. I've heard it said, “When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.” But I'm frustrated in a “waiting room” stance. 

I want my answer yesterday. I'm stuck in the cement of my time zone. I want to hurry although God's divine four letter word seems too often to be “wait.” I might suspect that Satan is trying to hinder me, and sometimes he is, but not always. He can't stop what God has ordained for my life.

It's hard to live in God's “not yet,” although I know that is one way He answers prayer besides a yes or a no. I fret while I'm in the hall waiting for doors to open into rooms of His favor. Am I able to trust God and praise Him while waiting? Able or not, God allows me at times to linger in this transition gap of “not yet” even if it stretches out for a prolonged time. To our Eternal God it is only a moment.

I know that God really is active in my now, although I don't observe it with my senses. It may not be His “due season” yet, nor His “fullness of time.” I may complain that it is painful and difficult to hang suspended in the “not yet.” Nevertheless, how I respond and handle myself during that period is critical.
I might not be ready for His blessing. God might need to work on me to prepare me to receive what He has in store for me. God may be setting up the circumstances that have to be in place before the time is ripe to bring me into the season of His favor. I can't shorten the waiting period, but I can lengthen it by lack of trust in Him and being rebellious in my waiting period. It will only last as long as He has planned.

I must be careful not to run ahead during my “not yet” time and do my own thing instead of waiting for God to act. Biblical examples are many, and we are shown the consequences and catastrophes of forging ahead without His certain orders. Think of Abraham barging ahead and fathering Ishmael without waiting for Sarah to conceive the promised Isaac. 

Those of us in our senior years who are climbing toward the pinnacle of our summit of life tend to be especially impatient. We are aware that our earth-time is short and there is no time to waste. We are inclined to be restless and impulsively take action without waiting for God because He appears to be dragging His feet. Do we forget that He has the eternal perspective and sees the due time already? There can be no “not yet” with Him.

The Lord wants me to wrap up my faith and trust in Him with expectation and watch for His moving hand, expect the unexpected, and the “exceeding above what we can ask or think.” My waiting room is also my examining room. I must examine myself to be sure I'm doing obediently all that He has already told me to do. Am I up-to-date in my relationship with Him? I'm not simply marking time. I must restfully accept this “not yet” transition period as a gift from Him, an opportunity to enjoy my present season of circumstances which He planned for my good and for His glory.

Dr. Andrew Murray, a “Protestant saint” well-known to many Christians over several generations, a missionary statesman and prolific author of what are called deeper spiritual life teachings on the interior life, wrote: “In times of uncertainty, doubt, or in a waiting period, say, 'I am here by God's appointment, in His keeping, under His training, and for His time.'”

It is pointless to spend my “not yet” time fretting, sweating, stewing, biting my nails, running ahead, or wearing a spot on the carpet with impatient pacing. If I think that nothing is happening, I must remember that “nothing is impossible with God.”

Saturday, July 16, 2016


We do it every morning. God and I keep exchanging PRESENTS! 

I “PRESENT my body as a living sacrifice to God” as the Apostle Paul specifically pleaded with us in Romans 12:1. He calls it “my reasonable service of worship.” Certainly this is reasonable. God already gave me a heap of PRESENTS: God created me, breathed life into me, sustained me for 91 years and counting, and planned from before the foundation of the world the good works which I should be doing (Ephesians 1:4 and 2:10).

Next it's my turn: I PRESENT myself entirely and in detail to God. “Here I am, Lord, I'm here to do Your will, to carry out those works I'm supposed to be doing that will be to the praise of Your glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 14).

God is the abundant Blesser, the Ultimate Giver of Gifts, PRESENTS, (Ephesians 4:7,8) always going overboard in His generosity. (1 Corinthians chapters 12-14) He is the Enabler, giving me an armload of Gifts of the Spirit to assist me in doing His will including the wisdom and strength for their accomplishment. He knows my human frame and takes in consideration the season of my life and my changing, sometimes diminishing opportunities and adjusts His expectations and PRESENTS accordingly. (1 Corinthians 7:7b) In each of my calendar seasons He gives me new challenges and possibilities.

Each PRESENT He gives me is fashioned exactly to my need as I cooperate with Him to build up the Church, the Body of Christ. (Romans 12:6-8). He doesn't intend that I should hug his PRESENTS to myself. “As each one has received a special gift (PRESENT), employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

And if I live and work for Him while growing the spiritual Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians chapter 5) and there is fruit that results from my service, I have great joy in giving back to Him as a PRESENT a basket full of spiritual fruit for the praise of the glory of His grace. 

This exchange of PRESENTS is so exciting day by day because my circumstances and opportunities are new every morning!

Here's how it goes: I use the PRESENTS God gives me to serve others in the Body of Christ--He intends for me to give them away. But there is one PRESENT He wants me to keep--HIS PRESENCE never leaves me. "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age....I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Matthew 28:20).

To top it off, God gives me the PRESENT of THIS PRESENT MOMENT to do His will today!


God is in my now
this moment is His
and His this day
so I must turn
from yesterday
and not expect
to live in retrospect
looking over my shoulder
to see either ghosts
of days gone by
or dwell
on pleasant memories.

God is in my now
so all of daily life
is holy ground
each duty crowned
as a royal moment
by the PRESENCE of The King.

My burning bush
is my PRESENT state
where God speaks to me
in the PRESENT tense
declaring “I AM.”
Because He lives
I celebrate now!
On this holy thought
I meditate
and find my joy

--Leona Choy

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


My chiropractor set me up: “Sitting too long at the computer stresses your back and legs and irritates all the nerves connected with them.”

I already know that. But I’m a writer. When I become immersed in the creative process of words and thoughts, I ignore time. Before I realize it, hours have slipped by. And yes, my body shouts about it. It hurts!

“Set your kitchen timer and get up and move every hour. The you can return to your writing renewed,” he advised.

“Okay, I’ll give it a try.” It took awhile to establish that good habit because often I continued to ignore the irritating jangle-buzz of the timer that startled me and I kept right on writing. I'm learning, but I haven’t totally succeeded yet. Eventually I do head for the door with my sunglasses and cell phone, the latter at the insistence of my sons who always warn me about falling and breaking a hip!

It really isn't a forced march; it's an escape from my own chosen confinement. When summertime elbows spring aside, I give in to the siren call of the warm, affectionate sun kissing my cheek, the gentle breeze ruffling my hair, the intoxicating fragrance first of honeysuckle, then the scent of sprouting pine, then peonies, then lilacs, then roses—overwhelming my senses. 

Lord, I notice! I notice and appreciate Your seasonal cycle established from the beginning of creation and continuing to nurture me in my vintage season of life.

As a teenager I had to memorize the poem by James Russell Lowell, “What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days. Then heaven tries earth if it be in tune and over it softly her warm ear lays....” What a sensory expression! The words moved me in my youth, and I can embrace and encore the feeling even now as a great-grandmother. 
As a child I soaked myself deliciously in the release and relief of summer vacation from school. Those were lazy, hazy, days when I enjoyed doing nothing and going nowhere special. I understood the true meaning of leisure. Bored was not in my vocabulary. With neighborhood kids I always found more than enough to occupy each day. In that long ago era, we even hiked in the woods and brought along sandwiches and a bottle of pop for an impromptu picnic by a bubbling stream. It was parent-permitted and considered safe. We brought home tadpoles in the empty pop bottle filled with pond water to monitor the progress of the frog cycle. At night there were lightning bugs to catch on the lawn and capture into jars while grownups gathered on porches with neighbors for small talk and to cool off in a captured breeze. 
I can experience that feeling again in bite-size pieces when my kitchen timer goes off. I wear a pedometer and in a measured mile I can condense some of the sensory delights of my childhood. I am still alive and my Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Provider, Sustainer, who holds my breath in His hands, is within me, beside me, going before me, drawing me ever closer to Himself. Moreover, He has my back. 
THERE GOES THE BUZZER! It's my signal to get up and go. Won't you come walk with me? After the rarity of June comes the sweltering heat of high July and with it even more of God's creation variety to revel in as summer morphs into amazing autumn with its splendid splashes of colors and the thoughts of first flakes of snow not far behind. Always more for which to bless God!

Saturday, July 9, 2016


“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying...(Isaiah 5:9). Oh, I wish I could hear God's voice as clearly as they seemed to in Old Testament days. Was it actually audible? Scripture doesn't tell us. How did they know it was His voice? There are so many other voices bombarding me so that it sounds like static in the ears of my heart.

Yet Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27) Earlier in the chapter He said “they know His voice” and that other sheep which are not of this fold will also hear His voice when He brings them into the fold. Jesus uses the comparison of sheep for His followers.

I've heard that by sheep herding custom several shepherds bring their flocks into a common shelter, a sheep fold, for protection at night. When their own shepherd calls them out in the morning, they recognize his voice and distinguish it so well that each responds to follow only its own shepherd. They have been trained from their lamb-hood days to recognize it. As an elderly “ewe” I ought to know my Good Shepherd's voice since I have been listening to it from my lamb-hood.

There are many other voices that compete for my attention: The voice of my own desires, the voices of other people who seek to influence me, the voice of the evil one who seeks to lead me astray, and the voices of my culture and society. I need the Holy Spirit's gift of discernment to sort them out. Above all, I need continual practice in listening so I will recognize His voice and follow Him when making any decision, in fact for every aspect of my daily living.

In many cases the problem isn't that God is not speaking, but that I am not listening. Or I have neglected to keep tuned to the right frequency. “His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear” but my ears are the problem. The ears of my heart are plugged with earth matters, with temporal things. Or perhaps I am reluctant to hear His voice because I am afraid that what He says might disturb my comfort zone.

God still speaks in our times and to each of us individually through His Word and His Church, through His people, and through the circumstances of our lives. He is speaking constantly through the words of Scripture as the Holy Spirit applies them to our lives. We still might wish that He spoke more clearly like handwriting on a wall, or like Jesus' words in the Gospels in some red-letter editions of the Bible where His words are easy to recognize.

It seems that God speaks more through impressions in our minds and nudges in our spirits. These are nonetheless understandable with practice. We have to invite God to speak, to let Him know that we are listening and are willing to obey like young Samuel did in the Old Testament, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Listening is different from merely hearing.

There are some of us in advancing years who need a little assistance in hearing correctly. Voices in the higher range are not as easy to recognize as those in the lower range. We need hearing aids. The Holy Spirit is “God's hearing aid.” God's voice is “in the higher range” and that is the one that is the most imperative for me to listen to. 

“So, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts...'” (Hebrews 3:7). It is up to me to keep my heart soft and malleable and open to hear His voice. God might have a “now word” for me personally, and for you, right now, today. I don't want to miss it. I can hear it if I keep tuned to His frequency.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


In the popular TV comedy series, “EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND,” now in reruns, each time adult, married, now-a-father Raymond comes across the street from his house to the kitchen of his parents' house, the first thing his mother Marie always asks is “Are you hungry? I'll make you something to eat.”

Those of us who are Moms can relate to that, even if our children are adults and out on their own. Because we've spent their growing years preparing food for them from infancy at least through their teens, our first thought even today when they walk through our door may be the same as Raymond's Mom. We are always concerned with their proper nourishment. 

Since I'm a mom, a grandma, and a great-grandma, by this time my cooking and baking days should be minimal. But I'm still "providing bread!"

I've brought this need for bread for my family into my prayers for my four adult sons, three of whom are already fathers in their own right and two are grandfathers. In fact, I pray for bread for the rest of my family too, for my 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, all the in-laws and the rest of our family tree. And I extend that prayer to my friends. 

I pray as Jesus taught, “Give them this day their daily bread,” from what we call “The Lord's Prayer” in Matthew 6:11. God "gives to all the living their food in due season” (Psalm 104:27, 28) and I may simply ask God for it.

Am I praying for literal bread, the flour-baked kind? No, not even necessarily for food, although that might be included in the need of the one for whom I pray, or the job to earn the bread. Jesus told us not to be anxious for what we should eat or drink. (Matthew 6:25-34) He mentioned anxiety five times in that passage. What is there about “don't be anxious” that we can't understand? We should seek first the Kingdom of God and all those things shall be added to us. 

A wider meaning of “bread” is whatever is necessary for life, whatever The Good Shepherd provides so that we “shall not want” [shall not lack]. (Psalm 23:1) “Bread” stands for “every good thing sufficient for the sustenance of life.” In praying for bread for someone, it is “for the nourishment life requires, for all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual.”

A still broader implication of my “Bread Prayer” is that the one for whom I am praying will have a growing relationship with Jesus who declared, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst...I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:26-58) Here Jesus' words foreshadow the Eucharist, the Lord's Supper. “My flesh is true food...he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life...and abides in Me, and I in him...and shall live forever.”

When I pray for “bread today” for someone, it is not only for them to be blessed and provided for this day in mortal time for the material necessities of their pilgrimage, but also in the “today of God,” in the eternal aspect. My petition includes prayer for their eternal status with God.

Even if I'm short on time I can quickly pray, “FATHER, GIVE HIM THIS DAY HIS DAILY BREAD” when praying for my child or my friend. I don't need to go into detail with Our Father who is in Heaven and tell Him how to slice the bread I ask for.
Or whether I want Him to spread butter and jam on it. It is an all-encompassing heart prayer all in one package, one petition.

I don't know precisely what to pray for. Therefore, Jesus Himself told me how to pray and what to say. I pray His words back to Him. He is living in Heaven praying for us (Hebrews 7:25) and He knows very well how to break that bread I'm praying for, and distribute it according to the need of the one for whom I pray. He alone can satisfy whatever the hunger is in their lives.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


(A blog post "EXTRA" just tucked in for good measure)

A good friend who has suffered the loss of her husband wrote me about her experience of the Lord's provision. She had purchased a load of heavy river rock for her garden project and had to pick it up at Home Depot.

"I didn't know how I could possibly do it by myself. In my morning prayers I asked God for what I thought I needed--a "man in a truck" to help. Since no man with a truck knocked on my door before I left, I realized I would have to do it alone. Instead of providing "a man in a truck," the Lord made the loading of the heavy rock into and out of my car trunk so easy for me to do! Really amazing! 

"That's when I understood that God Himself is truly my "man in a truck" who helps me do alone what I need to do when there is truly no one to help me. My age and ailments are limiting me, but when I pray asking the Lord to be my husband during times of special need, God enables me to do it. Since then, when things get overwhelming and I'm exhausted and short on energy, I always pray for a "man in a truck" and anticipate God surprising me by how He Himself is going to look after me and provide what I need since I am a woman on my own."

What a loving, tender heart the Lord has for us women on our own who struggle with leaky faucets, roof repair, car maintenance, and the seemingly endless man-sized decisions our husbands used to handle! Yes, most of us women on our own know exactly what my friend is talking about.

Psalm 68 calls God “a father of the fatherless, a defender of the widows....” In Old Testament times people were warned, “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.” The poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien [the stranger in the land], in fact, all defenseless people truly are objects of God's special concern and providential care.

My guess is that not all of my blog viewers, especially new viewers, are aware of the books for widows and supplemental resources for widows' support groups that I've written to help women navigate the new terrain of learning to live alone after the loss of a spouse and move toward a healthy adjustment leaning on the Lord.

I quote from one of my three published books to help such precious women:
 “I've been fatherless, even an orphan for many decades myself, and now a widow [for 24 years]. On all three counts I believe I've been qualified for God's special attention. The Lord has uniquely taken up my vulnerable case and becomes my defender, protector, shield, and fortress.

"In bygone days, it was the custom for a widow to go back to her father's house, if he were still living and had resources to care for her. She came under his protection again and looked to him for counsel and the supply of her needs, as she did when she was growing up in his household. We don't usually do that in our culture anymore. 

"However, we too, as [women on our own] are invited to go back to our Heavenly Father's house where we are under His protection and look to Him for guidance for our future. As the King's daughters we can count on God's unlimited resources for the supply of all our needs! We are safe and happy in our Father's house.

An even closer bond is available to us. In Isaiah 54 it is written that '...your husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts....' Although originally the passage was written for the nation of Israel, the principle may apply more broadly. Jesus is presented in the New Testament as the Bridegroom and the Church as His bride. The individual believer is part of that bride. Our personal relationship to Jesus is to be that of love. That love is strengthened as we who are [women on our own] lean heavily on Christ who now completely fills the gap left by our husband. I'm not left alone to fend for myself. I can share the intimate happenings of my life with my Maker, my husband. I can talk over my burdens, problems, and concerns with Him. I can share my joys and my hopes. I can submit my plans and decisions to Him and follow His perfect leading.

Lord, I hereby take You as my lawful husband and provider. I DO! And death will never part us!”

Among my blog viewers I'm sure there are many hundreds of us women on our own. And I'm sure we all know about still more of them among our family and friends. At least every few days I receive phone calls and emails from someone who wants to order more copies of one of my books for “singled out” women, as I call them. Usually someone has given them a copy and they have been encouraged. Now they in turn want to give a copy to a friend or family member who has suffered a fresh loss.

I invite you to my web site to read a review of each of my three books on this topic and obtain ordering information. Feel free to phone me with your order, if that is more convenient. At this time I give the third book, WALK THE GREEN VALLEY, free with your order of either one or the other or both of SINGLED OUT FOR GOD'S ASSIGNMENT and THE WIDOW'S MIGHT.

Let's embrace our sisters in Christ who are women on their own with love and understanding and helpful resources.