Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WRITING FOR THE SUPREME EDITOR

Many friends already know that I have been “pregnant” with another new book this year—so, does that surprise them? Not at all. They know that I usually have another idea waiting in the wings even as my latest book is coming off the press. I thank all my friends who have been praying for this new book-child. When I'm asked which of the books I've written is my personal favorite, I truthfully reply, “The next one....”


At what point in the "literary gestation" process am I? I've just had a "literary sonogram" on 7/17/17—surely an auspicious and lucky date with all those sevens! I suppose I should have written 7 chapters to make it fit, but I wrote 9, perhaps for the decades of my life. My sonogram was the completion of my first draft. Now I've seen my “baby” in formation.

I know this much about my “child”—she is non-fiction and autobiographical. She has a name already. Her parts (chapters) are all there. She is now in the finishing stage requiring much nourishment (multiple editings for enrichment) as I press on toward completing the manuscript. Only God knows the “due date.” I continually submit my editings to my Supreme Editor with much prayer seeking His approval. I want to be sure that I have said all and only what He wanted me to say.



Writing For the Supreme Editor

My Wordsmithing Life


Leona Choy

From my INTRODUCTION



How long have I been writing? For a lifetime. I expressed myself in writing ever since I learned to write in childhood. I always write with the flow of whatever is happening in my life. Much of my mid-life writing was in the context of the ministry in which my late husband Ted and I were engaged. It has primarily been since the traditional age of retirement that I have become more free to pursue my writing and publishing calling. Most of my several dozen books have been published after I became a cancer survivor and a widow. God generously stretched out those years into longevity The calling of God is for a lifetime and He has not rescinded it in my nonagenarian years.


This book is not just another autobiography. I already wrote my life story to the point of my eightieth year in 2002 and followed it with a spiritual autobiographical Trilogy of books since then. This book is autobiographically specific for the writing aspect of my life—not a “how to do it” book on writing, however. I certainly haven't achieved some public pinnacle in writing or publishing. I have never written a “best seller” in the world's eyes or been at the top of any publisher's charts. In the chapters that follow, I have traced my writing life from childhood to the present into my nineties. Why? To give God all the glory. 


This book is a very personal leisurely walk-through the memory lane of my writing life. It has been a reflective fun book to write without a deadline or pressure to please or target any particular readers beyond my family which now extends to more than a dozen great-grandchildren. That younger generation may not remember me in person when they grow to maturity, but they will be able to know me to some degree through my writings and follow the threads of God's calling upon my life. Perchance some of my progeny may inherit the “writers' ink” in our bloodline which I might have inherited from some unknown literary ancestor on the European Continent or elsewhere.


Why do I emphasize a “leisurely walk-through” to trace my wordsmithing life? By temperament, I am accustomed to writing and doing everything else in the fast lane. I wouldn't like to be known as being self-driven, however. Some people have incorrectly labeled me an “Energizer Bunny,” as if I were super-energetic and depend on my own capability with my writing foot on the accelerator. I want it known that I try to write by the energizing of the Holy Spirit, that I am inspired and enabled by the promptings or impressions or nudges of God, my Supreme Editor. It may seem like a self-contradiction but I have to work hard on walking and working more leisurely!


At my advanced calendar age, my mortal flesh “earth suit” has an ever-longer roster of disorders and ills and limitations and weaknesses not uncommon to the aging package. If I appear to be running the race at the same speed as I did in years past, it may be true but deceiving. It takes more energy for me to press on now. As I decrease in physical and mental stamina, so I must increase in dependence on the strength and enabling of God in my growing weakness.


It was my intention and desire for this writing project and for this season of my joyful wordsmithing life to adopt the translation of Deuteronomy 33:25 in the NASB version, “According to your days, so shall your leisurely walk be.” Other translations are, “Your strength will equal your days; your strength lasts all your days, the rest of your days.” “Your old age will be like the days of your youth.” Taking it as my verse for this year, I have found much gold to mine and exciting promises to reflect on as I applied it to the writing of this book on writing. I have coupled it with Psalm 103:5. “[God] satisfies your mouth [your life, your years, your necessity and desire at your personal age] with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”

I have tried to take it easy, to walk, not race with God's strong hand on my shoulder to keep me from running ahead. I trust Him to see me through. 


In this modest saga about my writing life, I have traced God's guidance in the rear view mirror as I reflected upon His faithfulness. He patiently taught me to listen for His voice and then obey it as a writer who is a Christian.



(Stay tuned and pray for me as I spend hours on end to tweak and prune and snip, clip and trim while I edit this new literary book-child to the point of delivery.) 
 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

OUR HUMAN "NESTING" INSTINCT



God's created human beings have been "preparing nests" for themselves ever since they had an unscheduled exit from the Garden of Eden.

Conditions were perfect there. They didn't even need to construct any shelter since there was no danger and the climate was perfect. Neither a/c units or heating systems required. From that point through the centuries of time to the present, our hostile and dangerous environment has forced us to build all kinds of shelters for ourselves and our families.

Construction depended on geographic location on Planet Earth, the materials at hand and what our culture dictated. Our “nests” have at times been tents made from animal skins, primitive thatched huts, rock caves, wigwams, hogans, underground houses, cliff dwellings, igloos made of ice, houses of mud, wood, stone, bricks, concrete—to multi-storied apartment complexes and lavish Hollywood-style homes that sprawl over acres, to grand palaces for our kings, the ingenuity of man has expressed itself. Large cities have arisen from ancient times to the present urban civilization to accommodate the shelters of those who labored in them. 

The same is true for places of worship: tents, tabernacles, magnificent temples, jungle meeting places, simple one room wooden churches, massive embellished cathedrals with splendid artwork, "crystal cathedrals" and mega-churches which could pass for plush entertainment centers.

Architects have tried to outdo one another generation by generation by designing more and more complex and futuristic dwellings for residences and houses of worship. Well, fasten your seat belts—prepare to be dazzled by the edifice depicted in the YouTube below. (If your Internet connection can't readily view this link, simply google “DUBAI ROTATING TOWER—YOUTUBE”) and let that blow your mind!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtlSecSxhkg

By and large, all these human “nests” were constructed for use during our mortal lifetimes. They all fell into disrepair with time and returned to dust, as did their occupants. The residents left them behind when they turned in their “earth suits” to leave for their eternal destinations.

The trajectory of those whose faith was anchored in God through the Lord Jesus Christ look forward to the resurrection of their mortal, temporary bodies of flesh. And they cling with anticipation to the fulfillment of Jesus' promise: “Don't let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's House are many dwelling places [mansions, in some translations]; if it were not so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for You, And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Other versions translate “mansions” as “travelers' resting places,” “many rooms, rooms to spare, more than enough rooms, many abodes, permanent residences...”

What those dwelling places will really be like far surpasses anything man has attempted to construct on earth no matter how high tech or architecturally far out his imagination will take him. “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Other translations enhance the meaning: “haven't even crossed the mind of any human being; what no one even thought could happen, is the very things God prepared for those who love Him; what God has arranged; all that God has in readiness for them that love Him.”

Can you find better promises or more sure than what Jesus Himself said He would be doing between the time He was taken into Heaven after His resurrection and the time when He will return? He is sitting at the right hand of God, yes, but at the same time apparently working on the preparation of those “travelers' resting places” that will be our permanent residences—whatever that means. 

Doesn't anticipating that glorious future eclipse any temporary trials of life, “comparative light afflictions” they are called in Scripture, that we may be going through while still in our “earth suits?”

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done...Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:12,20).




Sunday, July 9, 2017

Watch Out For the Waves!

I love the waters that God created—lakes, ponds, rivers, seas—but most of all the ocean because it is continually in motion. Nothing boring about the ocean. You can count on most of the others to be generally predictable and for the most part calm and tranquil. But not the ocean. 

You can anticipate the ocean to be unpredictable: the waves are capricious and impulsive. Even the rhythmic tides can surprise us. Sometimes waves bring unwelcome upheavals, turbulence and devastation as in a tsunami birthed as an earthquake in some far away location and deep beneath the surface along the ocean floor.

I have many precious friends for whom I pray who at this moment are struggling with physical issues that could turn into tsunamis at any time. I recognize one of them by looking into the mirror. 

What we might be accepting as chronic but stable “unfixables” this morning may become totally disordered and out of control before nightfall. Waves of life will come. A routine blood profile might suddenly be flagged as suspicious. Waves will come. Medications that held cancer at bay might cease working. Waves will come. Conditions that were in remission might turn acute. Diagnosis that has been benign might suddenly be reversed. Waves will come. An X-ray or MRI that was clear might suddenly need further exploration. Waves will come. Waves of life are unpredictable. They wash away our creative sand castles. We can learn to ride the waves. They have power to lift us higher.

Our waves in life may seem at certain times to be under control and peacefully rhythmic but in a moment can become threatening. Unless we are prepared beforehand to encounter them, the under-tow may catch us unaware and drag us under even if we are confidently swimming in the relative shallows. We may lose our balance unless we focus on a stable point or Person in the distance.



 WAVES WILL COME

Waves of life are inevitable
They break upon my shore
and I must face them.

A thundering swell approaches:
I brace myself alarmed
but the wave spends itself
before it reaches me.
I feared in vain.

Some lesser waves
roll toward me silently
so slight I disregard them
but they capsize me suddenly
with surging undertow.

Waves wash to shore
with varied rhythm
subsiding and swelling
with respite between
to prepare for the unseen
yet certain waves of life.

The choice is mine:
I can run from them
but they will pursue me
or I can run to meet them
encounter them head on
ride their crest with courage
hailing them as friends.

If I gaze in apprehension
focusing on the waves
I lose my balance
my world spins and sways
but if I fix my eyes
upon some distant point
I stand unmovable and firm
though waves may roll
against my body or my soul!
*****

"I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

Monday, July 3, 2017

CHANGE MY DESERT, LORD!

We usually think of the desert as a bleak, lonely place with endless stretches of hot sand, no water and a scarcity of greenery. Drab and dreary, certainly not colorful. Attractive to nothing but snakes and scorpions. Surely not a tourist destination. Who would want to go there?


Apparently thousands of people each year! They plan their vacation around unpredictable dates to challenge that the above description is far from accurate—even botanists and weather professionals. Believe it or not, a desert can become a tourist attraction! 


When a unique combination of sun, wind, water, temperature and elevation sets the stage and the precise location is determined, a springtime bloom extravaganza takes place in certain so-called arid deserts. And people flock to see it as if it were Disney World. It is God's lavish Wonder World.


Rain is needed in small doses throughout the winter. Too little rain provides a poor climate for seed germination. Too much rain, and the seeds could rot or be washed away. Showers too early or too late in the season snuff out possibilities of this fireworks of wildflower blossoms. Temperature is also critical. If the sun gets too hot, the seeds may become parched and seedlings scorched. Very cold temperatures spell bad news for blossoms.

Each year's bloom is unique in its variety, profusion and timing. A normally barren-looking California desert landscape can become transformed into a colorful field of flowers over the span of a few days.



The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California experienced such a "super bloom" this year. That is a colloquial term used to define an explosion of wildflowers that exceeds typical spring blooms. The park, which is typically bare of flowers, came alive with vibrant greenery, poppies, primroses, and lilies not planted and cultivated by man's hands but the Creator's who seems to like to keep us in suspense.


But surely that doesn't happen in the inhospitable Death Valley desert which straddles California and Nevada! But YES! When conditions are right, including well-spaced rainfall and low winds, that forsaken, arid desert becomes carpeted with wildflowers. This year the conditions were just right for God to paint the desert with lavish colors. The window of opportunity for human eyes to see this incredible display was only brief.


Cactus plants regularly join in the fun. Right in the middle of their profusion of sharp stay-away-from-me spines grow the most spectacular flowers in the entire Southwest.


 Splashes of bright red, yellow, pink, orange, and lavender dot the barren landscape. Because rain is so infrequent, some cacti have long roots stretching as much as eighty feet underground. As part of the complex ecosystem, they store water in their leaves. Their thorns protect the stem and give shade and shelter to human and animal life.


LET'S EXPLORE THE ANALOGY TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES.

Some of us find ourselves in isolated, arid places—literal or figurative—at times in our lives. We don't want to be in the desert. Even an Amazon tropical rain forest jungle might be preferable, even a bleak mountain, or a deep valley. Here in our desert the fierce hot wind bites our face. We sweat. We have parched, cracked lips and we taste gritty sand. The heat burns through the very soles of our shoes. We have an insatiable thirst. 

Yet the words of the apostle Paul ring in our ears, Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content(Philippians 4:11). Wherever I am? In whatever circumstances? Yes, if I am a child of God, He has uniquely planted me wherever I am for my good and for His glory and His purposes. That includes the inhospitable desert. But something spectacular could happen to me wherever I am!


What makes the difference between despair in our circumstances and hope for change? The loving presence of Jesus can suddenly burst our lives into “super bloom” if we open ourselves to the conditions He arranges for us. The sun (we must be in right relationship with the Son), the wind (Wind of the Holy Spirit must be invited to blow freely through our lives), the water (we must keep ourselves hydrated with Jesus, the Living Water, from above through rain or below from aquifer underground rivers that run secretly cool and fresh deep beneath the desert sand), the temperature must be in the right balance between hot and cold (but Jesus doesn't want us to be lukewarm spiritually), the elevation (we must be standing firmly high on the Rock which is Jesus. I've traveled through the Sinai desert. Immense rocks jut forth from the desert sand.) All these conditions need to be fully aligned in us in order to germinate our aridity and burst forth into full bloom spiritually. 

 
God's purpose for us, however, is not simply to stand around blooming. A beautiful sight, yes, and a witness for Him to others in the desert, but He primarily desires us to be His channels for that Living Water which He provides sufficient for all. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Paul lets us know why we may be going through such desert times experiencing personal trials, hardships, exhaustion, stress. God lavishes His comfort on us so that we can comfort others and point them to the all-sufficiency of God. We can offer cups of cold water to others who are thirsty because we have experienced thirst that has been quenched. We can wash their burning, sandy feet. We are to be God's “well-watered gardens.” God wants us to be signposts inviting the thirsty to the flourishing, abundant Oasis which is Christ Himself, the Ever-flowing Spring, where they can drink freely. 
 
If you are in the desert, take heart! God's promises abound in the Scriptures of what He will do for us and through us in desert places. The following verses from Isaiah do apply first of all to Israel but the principles are available for us: “I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert...I pour out water on the thirsty land...I will guide them to springs of water...I will make her desert like the garden of the Lord...the Lord will satisfy your soul in scorched places...you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail...like streams in the desert...I will make the desert a pool of water, and the dry land fountains of water....”




The desert will be glad and rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely...” And so will we in our aridity as we allow God to make our deserts into His well-watered gardens.