Friday, August 11, 2017

THE HAMMER IS STILL ON THE ANVIL


I'm still at the stage of "hours on end to tweak and prune and snip and clip and trim while I edit my latest literary book-child to the point of delivery." Thank you, prayer partners, for your faithful prayers. I'm trying my best to "leisurely walk" through this manuscript rather than writing in the fast lane as is my habit. 

The final editing of the chapters of WRITING FOR THE SUPREME EDITOR should be finished soon and nearing production. The chapters titles are: Beginnings and Before, Launching my Writing Career, Selfie Writing, Spreading My Wings, Over Mountains and Plains and Seas, The Joy of Psalming, Passing the Writing Baton, God's Empowering Touch, From Cave Walls to Cyberspace, Legacy on My Mind, Pursue Your Dream and an Epilogue titled Afterglow.

Below is an excerpt explaining my analogy between the skilled master craft of blacksmithing and creative writing wordsmithing.


As I use the term, a wordsmith is similar to a master craftsman like a blacksmith. The blacksmith uses a hammer, an anvil, fire and water as his tools today in much the same way as they were used in past centuries. His raw materials are metal, iron and steel. The wordsmith's tools have morphed through the ages. His words originally were spoken and orally passed down. The yearning for permanency impelled him to change his medium through the centuries as the medium was developed. Mankind has always had wordsmiths—and always will. There are wordsmiths in every language group and they adapt to the times in which they live.

I found definitions of a wordsmith in various dictionaries which expands our understanding: “One skilled in using words, a fluent and prolific writer who manages language very well, someone who can inspire others through the use of brilliantly crafted words or phrases, one who makes up words intuitively, creatively, or purely by accident, one who can turn a tedious story into a magical and merryful story, one well-gifted in the art of writing, one who carefully selects just the right word and word order, a word expert, a creative communicator.”

Ah, how I would love to qualify as a wordsmith as described above! I can only aspire, dream, practice and press on to be counted worthy to bend low in the company of those who do merit such high-sounding descriptions.

Analogies to Blacksmithing

I see many analogies between wordsmithing and blacksmithing. I can only whet your appetite for such an understanding by briefly mentioning a few of them. First, let's look at what a blacksmith does. A blacksmith is a person who uses mega-strength to hammer hot iron on an anvil to change the shape of the material in line with his mental image. The heat in a forge must be intense enough to soften and shape the formerly rigid and unyielding substance. As iron heats to higher temperatures, it first glows red, then orange, yellow, and finally white. 

Eventually comes the finishing process. Depending on the master smithy's intended use of the piece, a blacksmith may finish it in a number of ways: Filing brings a piece to final shape, removing sharp edges and smoothing the surface. Heat treatment and case-hardening achieves the desired hardness. The wire brush—as a hand tool or power tool—can further smooth, brighten, and burnish surfaces. Grinding stones, abrasive paper and emery wheels can further shape the material. A range of treatments and finishes can inhibit oxidation and enhance or change the appearance of the piece. An experienced smithy selects the finish based on the metal itself and on the intended use of the item. 

A blacksmith doesn't usually work alone. Someone else is in the picture. A “blacksmith's striker” is an assistant whose job it is to swing a large sledgehammer in heavy forging operations as directed by the master blacksmith. In practice, the blacksmith holds the hot iron at the anvil with tongs in one hand, and indicates where to strike the iron by tapping it with a small hammer in the other hand. The striker then delivers a heavy blow to the indicated spot with a sledgehammer. All of the above reminds me of the process of creative writing, wordsmithing.

All for the Supreme Editor

I look upon my lifetime of wordsmithing in a twofold way: first, the creative words I have been forging into some medium of communication, and second, myself as God's workmanship. He has been forging me into the person He planned for me to be from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). I am being worked on by His Holy Spirit, and God is working through me and I with Him to write what He wants me to write.

As a wordsmith who is a Christian I have a unique relationship and responsibility to work for and with the “Master Smithy” whom I call in the title of this book, “The Supreme Editor.” He is my Lord, the Omnipotent God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom I am accountable as a good steward. He has the overall plan for any writing project to which He assigns me. 

I regard myself in a sense as His amanuensis. The dictionary defines that as a person who assists another to write what the other person desires. Of course God doesn't literally “dictate” what I am to write, contrary to what some “wannabe writers” claim about their fledgling literary works. In further definition and personalizing it, I am at my Master's personal service, “within hand reach” to perform any command. Further defined, an amanuensis is “an intimately trusted servant; like a scribe; a lowly clerk specializing in producing at royal command whatever the Sovereign wishes to write. I like that aspect. I look to the Lord for His nudge, His impression, His ideation for my writing. I try to listen carefully and “do whatever He says” as the Blessed Mother of Jesus instructed the wine servants at the wedding at Cana.

At times my Supreme Editor has said no or not yet when I presented an idea or manuscript to Him. I have not argued with God about it but simply obeyed. I didn't want to end up with a permanent bad hip like Jacob did when he wrestled with the Angel! As a case in point, it was more than thirty years ago that I chose the title for this book and outlined what I had in mind to write. God stopped me. I thought I got a no but it turned out to be a not yet because that was not God's time or mine. I had much more living to do and many difficult and joyous experiences to live through and many more books to write and publish before I was ready. Now He has given me the green light—due time has come!

In my wordsmithing God provides the tools, the material on which I work, the fire, the heat, the energizing strength to soften the hard task of working with words and making them malleable to sculpt for His intended use. At times it is I who am the unyielding iron on which God is working and intense heat is not pleasant but necessary. Sometimes there are difficult writing projects where the heat needs to be intensified. At times in the wordsmithing process the Divine Smithy allows the hefty, muscled “Striker” (the Adversary in this case) to administer a blow to make me more pliant and compliant to His will, as He allowed His servant Job in the Old Testament to go through. All the while He is loving on me, carefully holding me, keeping me safe and steady with His "divine tongs" so that I won't be harmed but perfected.

The Supreme Editor reserves for Himself the process of Finishing and polishing the product or writing project upon which we have worked together. He ordained its intended use. I leave it to His discretion how long the case-hardening finish is to take. At times that might mean an unexplained (to me) delay before a book is published. There have been times other than the example above when twenty years or more elapsed between the actual completion of one of my book manuscripts and the day it rolled off the press—seriously! It might have been me who was in need of the filing of my sharp edges or my finding the better choice of words to communicate His message or a different readership. I concur with the Supreme Editor's insistence on multiple editings. As in blacksmithing, the finished wordsmithing product must be presented shining brightly.

My life assignment from my Supreme Editor has been to learn how to communicate His thoughts to those who read my writings as a skillful blacksmith would as he hammers out iron into steel in the white furnace heat of his forge to create a product of His own choosing.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

MY LIST



 I have a "Special Needs" Prayer List. It is above and beyond my ordinary praying, although I don't think there is any such thing as "ordinary" praying. All requests, intercessions, praise and thanksgiving always reaches God.

But on this particular List are the names of people with various physical and spiritual and even unspoken, unknown to me needs. Either they have asked me to pray for them or I have come to know of either their urgent current or chronic needs, their burdens or their worrisome concerns for themselves or for others.



I simply bring the friends on this List to Jesus, lift them up into His arms like the Jewish mothers did with their children. He welcomed them onto His lap: “Let them come....” He embraced them and blessed them at the point of their need. The mothers were grateful and I am grateful to bring my friends to Him. I don't have to go into some detailed recital of their needs or remind Him of how I would like Him to answer them or how my friends would like to have them met. He already knows that.


All I need to do is to “help make a hole in the roof,” as it were, and be one of the four friends of the needy, helpless paralytic by holding one of the corners of the mat as we lower him through the ceiling right down in front of Jesus. (Mark 2:4) I am not praying alone. As I unite my prayers and faith with others, Jesus know what my friends need. He already has an omniscient, omnipotent plan for their lives and how He is going to generously and lovingly answer our collective petitions.


How God will answer doesn't depend on my eloquence, frequency or fervor in prayer. Simply to mention their names to Him will do, as the apostle Paul wrote that was his habit when praying for his friends. Jesus knows each of them by name (John 10:3,14). If they are ill and need healing and I know the name of the illness, I mention it to Him because His name is above every name (Eph. 1:21 and Phil 2:9) and at the mention of Jesus' name every knee will bow to Him (Rom. 14:11)—and by inference, so will every illness no matter how complicated and unpronounceable the medical term for the disease or disorder.


As God answers prayer and needs are met, people come and go on my List. I rejoice with those whom Jesus touches in whatever way He knows best. Some remain on my List for years, if necessary, struggling with chronic conditions and experiencing the “My grace is sufficient for you” balm from God for the long haul. They leave my List when it's God's perfect time to receive their ultimate healing in their Heavenly Home where there is no sickness or pain and Jesus makes all things new.


Others with special needs are continuing to come onto my ever-expanding List. I always have room for more. God expands my compassion and extends my love to include them. The hymn writer expresses it so well based on James 4:6—God gives greater grace: 


“He [God] gives more grace when the burden grows greater;

He sends more strength when the labors increase.

To added affliction He adds His mercy;

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.



When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed 'ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father's full giving is only begun.



His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;

His power has no boundary known unto men.

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,

He gives, and gives, and gives again!


To hear this hymn on youtube go to:


I welcome any “special needs” friends to My List. Seriously? Yes. Email me at leonachoy@gmail.com. Jesus' care and love for you has no limit. Let's trust Him together.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE

God spoke to me in the Czech language this morning. Yes, He did.

 I just awakened and wanted to hurry and remember something that I thought of during the night. I found pen and paper and looked for something substantial to put underneath the paper as I wrote. I pulled a book from my bookcase at random. The adjoining picture is the front cover of that book.


It was a book in Czech for children to learn about the months of the year and the changing of the seasons in little poetic couplets that rhyme at the end of both lines. I can read and speak Czech at about the kids' level since it was my first language growing up in Iowa. My beloved Czech grandmother, Frantiska, who didn't speak any English, cared for me from my infancy at home while my parents were both at work. Translated, the title of the book means: “Whether the climate is hot or cold, on earth everything gives us joy.” (Phone me 540-877-1813 and I'll read it to you in Czech!)


Wow! I thought. That little rhyme packs a monster truth with some underlying principles that apply to the climate change controversy, also to my life attitude under all circumstances of life. The entire international dispute about climate change could well follow the principle of subsidiarity: Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled and problems solved by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority.”


Why get bent out of shape to worry about who or what is the source of change in climate over the millennia of time? History and even pre-history shows us that there have always been changes: catastrophic and minor, sudden and gradual over centuries and decades, even in our lifetimes. Everything in creation changes. It is a built-in earth principle. Human beings have to go with the flow. 


In times past, man didn't have the capability to alter either his immediate environment or the atmosphere at large or even his personal comfort zone–other than putting on heavy clothing during freezing weather or shedding his clothes in the heat.
 Now he is able to climate control his habitat “whether hot or cold” with a thermostat.

More all-encompassing than that, man is now capable of releasing energy by rearrangement of atomic nuclei through nuclear fission or fusion to destroy himself and all mankind and in the process not only pollute and irreparably contaminate his immediate environment and the earth's atmosphere in dangerous ways previously unimagined.


Isn't climate change on earth ultimately vested in God as the “Central Authority?”
Isn't it best that we leave it to Him while we first “take it at a local level” to do what we can ourselves? We are “the smallest, lowest competent authority.” Let's do our share and our personal best. 

Beyond that, taking it even more personally and intimately, there is a secondary meaning to the word “atmosphere.” It refers to “one's dominant mood or emotional tone.” We also have a thermostat for that which is well within our ability to control through our free will. We can have our own “climate change” at any time through our attitude that can transcend our immediate environment or circumstances—whether hot or cold, rain or shine, whether adversity or success, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want. “On earth 'vse' EVERYTHING 'tesi' nas—gives us joy.” Or as James in 1:2 counsels, “if we encounter various trials, consider it all joy.


Guess what? I forgot what I originally wanted to remember to write down this morning because God spoke so loudly and clearly to me about my own responsibility for “climate control” through that pithy little Czech couplet. I get it: All joy! Regardless of what is going down in my life these days, I'm in charge of my thermostat, my “dominant mood and emotional tone.”