Monday, May 22, 2017

MY SURVIVOR ASSIGNMENT


"It's scary at the top of a slide.  Do I really have to go down? Can't I get back up and go down the ladder again? I'll put on a smile and act brave...but it seems like such a long way down to the bottom of the slide!"

Only God (or perhaps Kyle's guardian angel) knows what my two-year old great-grandson is really contemplating at the top of the slide. For him it's a major decision!

I am bountifully blessed with 13 great-grands in addition to 10 grandchildren! I don't expect to be around on Planet Earth when the little ones are grown and making much bigger career or marital decisions than Kyle's at the top of the slide. When Kyle had barely started to walk and before he could form words of speech, his decisions were mental and age appropriate such as, "Shall I go down that strange road and explore where it leads without Mommy knowing where I am?" I will pray for God to guide him to make the right decisions when he is old enough to understand.


We who are navigating longevity sometimes wonder why God is allowing us to stay on earth so long when Heaven is so much better. Some of us have concluded correctly from experience and insight that we are survivors because we have a special assignment from the Lord.  My family is at the center of my world and at the center of my prayers. I believe that part of my sacred assignment as a survivor in my longevity years is to pray for our "special needs" children as they journey down life's road.


Thank God none of them is mentally or physically challenged; nevertheless, they are all “children with special needs" in the sense that whatever their age they each have "special needs." They are personal, relational, educational, financial, physical—and at the top of the list—spiritual needs. 


At this writing our four sons are now in their fifties and sixties; two are already grandparents themselves! Our grandchildren range in age from seventeen to forty-two; our great-grandchildren are newborn infants, toddlers, in elementary grades, and in middle school. 


I feel a heavy spiritual responsibility from God to shepherd my family flock primarily through prayer for their lives now and down the unknown road of their future lives. It seems that I'm continually praying one or another through one crisis or struggle or situation after another. As a “single parent” (widow), I’ve carried that prayer burden for our extended family circle by myself for 25 years. Not really alone, however, since our Catholic faith teaches that our loved ones can intercede for us from Heaven. I believe my husband is continuing to pray for our family as he did while on earth. And I thank God for friends who say, "I'm praying for you and your children; please pray for me and mine." "Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love!"
There are times when as I pray I sing with joy for some happy occasion they are going through. At other times I am groaning and sighing and shedding a few tears. It is a matter of the heart. Our children eventually leave our nest, our home, but they never leave our hearts.


There are times when I’m not sure whether what they face is an assault from the enemy against which I should take spiritual authority on their behalf, or a test from the Lord through which they should persevere and grow. Or whether their physical affliction is a call for faith and healing prayer or is permitted by God for some divine purpose and they need courage to go through.



The most I can do, in fact, the very best that I can do, is to present to the Lord each situation, each person, and each family and ask Him to carry out His perfect will in His perfect way in His perfect time for his or her good and for God's glory.
Ultimately, the answers to my prayers come from God.  I really don't know how and for what God wants me to pray, so the Holy Spirit picks up my imperfect prayer and presents it with His “groanings," (sighs too deep for words) to God perfectly "edited" to be acceptable to the Father's will (Romans 8:26-27).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pacemakers and Pacesetters

(Great-grandma's brag time: At the left is one of my-sweet-as-honey great-granddaughters Karis Leona Choy learning early to take the "pause that refreshes" any time the opportunity presents itself.)

In the Western world we use the term "stop and smell the roses" to indicate the longing to slow our pace to enjoy life more. The Chinese proverb expresses it in a caution not to "gallop through a flower garden on horseback." Both indicate a desire for a life without a heavy foot on the accelerator.

The title of the poem below by Japanese author Toki Miyashina is obviously her version of Psalm 23. By the title I'm sure she doesn't mean "pacemaker" in the sense of the small device surgically inserted under the skin of the chest to remedy heart rhythm disorders that arise from disease in the heart's electrical conduction system. The normal heart has its own pacemaker designed by God that regulates the rate at which the heart beats.

Surely Toki means her meditation in the sense of "pacesetter," as I do when I walk with a friend along our country road. Because of my diminished breathing capacity due to a previous lung cancer surgery, unfortunately I'm the one who must set the pace to slow, almost a stroll. On the contrary, when we walk with Jesus daily, let's allow Him to set the pace. He leads us but we walk beside Him as our Pacesetter. There are times when we must run to catch up with Him, and times when He has to hold us back from running ahead of Him. And times when we tend to drag our feet and lag behind. Fast is not the preferred pace. Waiting on the Lord is the perfect pace.

One of the recent books I've published, Selah Reflections, I subtitled Press the PAUSE button, which is the counsel many of us need most in our hectic lives. It is also what the term "Selah" is thought to express when it is used in the Psalms: "Pause, slow down, think quietly about the meaning of life, and adjust your ways."


The Lord is My Pacemaker

The Lord is my pacemaker - I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals:
He provides me with images of stillness,
Which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency
Through calmness of mind, and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things
To accomplish each day, I will not fret -
for His Presence is here:
His timelessness, His importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
In the midst of my activity,
By anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
Shall be the fruits of my hours;
For I shall live in His house forever. 



 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

SPRING, THE LOVER!



(View my more realistic calendar-challenged revision that follows my poem!)














Spring, the Lover


Spring startled me today
as I shook out the dust mop.
He took me by surprise
I didn't realize
he had arrived.
He slipped behind me
ruffled my hair with the wind
kissed my cheek with the sun
laughed to see me blush.
His warm breath caressed my neck
teasing me, making me restless
as I swept winter from the porch.
I tried to brush him from my mind
by staying indoors at humdrum tasks.
He rustled the curtains
trying to attract my attention
flirting with me
through the open window.
I can't resist him!
I must run away with him
right away today. So I race
trowel and seeds in hand
to our garden rendezvous
our “special place”
eager for the touch
of the rich mulch
the sweet, earthy scent
of Virginia country soil.
Despite the lingering chill
of retreating March wind
I kneel in ecstasy
in the moist flower bed
breathing hard
delighted to feel basic nature
and the hope of life
incipient in the seed
about to experience
resurrection.
I cast off my winter inhibition
and yield to the thrill
of Spring's embrace!


My update revision spring 2017
(I actually wrote the above poem when I was only age 60!)

"shook out the dust mop" ? Not anymore. I'm allergic to dust.
"my open window"? No, my allergist advises me that the pollen will be bad for me even indoors if I open my windows.
"run away with him"? "race to the garden"?  I don't run anywhere anymore...I have all I can do just to walk without falling!
"touch the rich mulch"?  No, again. Mold is the third thing to which I'm allergic!
"kneeling in ecstasy"? Oh no! If I kneel I can't get up without help!
"breathing hard"? Oh yeah! But it's not from romantic emotion but from being short of breath with COPD.
"planting seeds in the moist flower bed"? No longer. I leave the gardening to younger members of my family. What I proudly did today is to plant 3 small cherry tomato plants in big pots on my deck!
The bottom line? YES! I still "yield to the thrill" of each new spring as if it were my first and celebrate each day as a generous gift of our loving God!

Poem above from Leona's new book PSALMS OF MY HARVEST, p.127




Monday, May 8, 2017

A HAUNTED HOUSE


Most of us have a Memory Storehouse of greater or lesser size. My Storehouse is hidden from sight. In fact, I think it is haunted because when I approach it, I can hear voices from within. Not happy voices, but moaning and groaning.

I'm the only one who has a key. I keep my Memory Storehouse locked, as you probably do, so that the memories won't get out. Many of us go to our Memory Storehouse often so that the grass on the path leading up to it doesn't even have a chance to grow. The door doesn't squeak since I use it frequently and keep it well-oiled.


What's in mine? Probably the things you keep in yours too. Not the sins I have committed, since as soon as I confess and repent of them, they are forgiven by God. (Psalm 103:12) He said He remembers them no more, so I don't have to keep bringing them up. God does, however, remember the good works of His people done in gratitude for what He has done for us.


So what's in My Memory Storehouse? The shelves are filled with the things other people may have done to me or against me. Perhaps I suffered injustices, hurts, offenses, abuses, insults, even have been a victim of some persecutions, or have been disrespected or put down by someone. Such things I suffered are invisible, so you can't see them on my shelves. Nevertheless I can see them. They are familiar to me. I keep them for years often dusting them off and polishing them each time I come in to inspect them.

My Storehouse is my comfort zone where I can enjoy my solitary pity party. Each time I pick up one of the offenses, it obliges by opening up the fresh wound again. It becomes as vivid to me as the day it happened, and I hurt all over again. I overlay it with bitterness against the person who supposedly injured me. My mental and physical health is affected by those trips to my Memory Storehouse. Certainly this dredging-up practice affects my spiritual life. Nevertheless, I continue going there....


We hear so much about “offenses” these days in our political correctness world. We are cautioned not to say or do anything that might offend someone else. We are warned to back off from engaging even in righteous behavior or being too overt in our worship, Christian practice, Christian speech or personal purity lest someone be offended—and actually initiate a law suit against us!

What is this sudden sensitivity about being “offended?” An offense is defined by the dictionary as “something that causes someone displeasure.” Big deal? To be offended seems to mean that what someone said or did didn't "please" us. It has such emotional and prideful overtones. Why must I be so careful about my precious, sensitive ego that I expect everyone else to cater to my feelings and to “walk on eggs” so to speak when they are around me? Why do I insist that they agree with me? Are they responsible for my pleasure? Am I so emotionally fragile as a Christian?


My Memory Storehouse is chocked full of things done or said to meI am the one who is offended! The shame should be on me! I need to deal with those things. Possibly the persons who committed some transgression against me never even knew they offended me. It's also probable that most of them have forgotten the incident. Some may no longer be in my sphere of influence or have died. The incident that happened to me may have taken place decades ago. Perhaps only I noticed it or I might even have imagined it. But I torment myself by keeping every such hurt and injustice cataloged, filed, and fresh in my memory.


There is seldom justice on this earth. The wicked prosper, the righteous are often down-trodden, taken advantage of and made to suffer. But none of these actions escape the Lord's attention. He has laid them up in store and sealed them up in His Heavenly Treasure house. He promised to mete out justice at the time of His judgment. Deuteronomy 32:34 declares, as God speaks, “Is it not laid up in store with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?” He said, “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people,” verse 43. Although directing His promise to Israel, God's principle is the same in dealing with us who confess Him as Lord.


Why, then, don't we just let those offenses go? It's not my business either to hang on to them or to try to even the score. They will be dealt with by God once and for all in His time and way. Let's pull those putrefying wounds and hurts and offenses off of our memory shelf one by one. Let's forgive the person who offended us, leave the consequences to God, and forget it. Let's not let another day pass allowing those rotten memories to contaminate our minds and spirits in the present. Let's close that haunted Memory Storehouse door forever, lock it, throw away the key—and never come near it again.


When I've deposited all those injustices and offenses at the foot of the Cross, I must leave them there and go away empty-handed. What a relief to let God even up old scores when He renders His divine justice!

Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."