Saturday, October 31, 2009


A teenager walked by with “Wait Training” lettered on her sweat shirt. I don’t know what that implied to her, but it applied to something I have been wrestling with most of my life it seems. It has nothing to do with pumping iron.

My problem seems to be gender specific, peculiar to women. We tend to be more emotional and impulsive, more likely to quickly vent our feelings. That’s what gets me into trouble. There are times when I want to complain to someone about what they did that didn’t please me or about neglecting to do something they promised or should be doing. I could whitewash it and call it “righteous indignation.” Would you believe that I have such a negative character trait?

Since I know that I am right—of course—the first thing I’d like to do is to tell them off. But I’m not really a confrontational person, especially not face to face. As a writer, I’d much rather send off a letter. That also gives me a chance to craft my complaint, state my case logically and carefully, point by point. Snail mail is far too slow these days—much better to send an e-mail which is instant and allows me to vent while I’m hot under the collar.

With the ease of e-mail, my habit escalates. 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. Webster tells me that a missile is “an object or weapon that is thrown, shot, or otherwise propelled to a target.” A letter I quickly send off in the heat of my emotions, especially before I have all the facts in hand, is more lethal than a hand grenade. It has the potential to mortally wound a friendship or relationship. It is not a “guided missile” if I haven’t taken the time to be guided by the Lord before I send it. I am not advocating simply holding in my emotions; totally suppressing them has pressure cooker dangers.

God has been trying to enroll me in WAIT TRAINING most of my life in respect to this impulsive habit of venting-and-sending too soon either in black and white or with words spoken which are just as damaging or more so than if I wrote them. In Proverbs we 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 he 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.”

In the Psalms, David declares, “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. WAIT is its 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 near transgressing again. Recently an occasion came up when I came too close for comfort to messing up a precious relationship big time.

I was really miffed. I felt I had every right to complain to someone about an unfair situation that involved me and my feelings. I sat down at my sometimes overly user-friendly computer, and set about venting with the full intent of sending off the e-mail immediately to the person involved. I rapidly wrote two pages of steam. 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. Well, that should put him in his place! Let the chips fall where they may—he deserved every sentence.

I sat back and blew out my breath—Well, here it goes! But somehow I couldn’t click SEND. An unseen but clearly felt hand seemed to restrain me. Perhaps it was my Guardian Angel (he is probably exhausted with his incredibly long and arduous assignment) who was bringing me to my senses. “WAIT!” There was no mistaking the impression.

“Click SAVE instead.” Well, OK, I guess I can send it later, I reluctantly complied.

“That’s not all—pray for him. And pour out your complaint before God.”

Meekly I obeyed. I waited one day, two days. My furnace cooled.

The third day my target person surprised me by e-mailing me all on his own. He warmly and caringly laid out an entirely different scenario for the situation that had precipitated my boiler eruption. I had misunderstood, jumped to conclusions, and read between the lines when there was nothing to read! I came too close to losing a relationship that was precious and holy!

Venting is allowed and needed to relieve my emotional pressure. Writing down my feelings is a good outlet, an escape valve—as long as I don’t send it. Complaining is permitted, if I do it before God. O Lord, don’t give up on me—keep me in your WAIT TRAINING class for as long as I need it. And give my Guardian Angel an extra slice of Angel Food cake for his coffee break at “STARbucks” as a reward for a job well done.



You are part of your living family tree. You start out as a tiny bud that grows into a little twig. Then you develop into a branch. Years go by and YOU BECOME A TRUNK with your own branches which, in turn, sprout new buds and little twigs. Your branches become trunks and eventually, inevitably, you become a part of the root system. While you are a trunk, think seriously about fulfilling YOUR TRUNK DESTINY.

After you leave Planet Earth, future members of your family may eagerly research your life to find out vital facets of their heritage. Will you make it easy or difficult for them? It is up to you. I’m not touting complicated genealogy charts. That’s not what I’m into, although if that’s good for you, run with it.

I’m more interested in whether your posterity will really know who you were and what the times were like when you lived and what you believed to be the purpose of your life. If you are getting on in years, do your children and grandchildren realize that you were not always a mom, not always a grandma? You had and still have hopes, dreams, ideals, ideas, problems, and struggles like they have. Don’t you want them to know the real you? Given time, an entire human forest may grow up around your family tree. Do you want to be lost in that forest by failing to pass on your inner, unique identity to those who follow you? You have lived. You matter.

Families differ in their regard for the past. Blessed are you if your parents and grandparents poured into you wonderful stories of your heritage. You have a head start. Appreciate your treasure and record it in some way for your legacy. Perhaps you are like me—when I started looking into my heritage to write my autobiography, I was disappointed that my parents and grandparents left no letters, diaries, records or even anything in their own handwriting about themselves or their roots. They passed on without passing on anything tangible of our heritage. They lived and left without leaving written footprints for me to follow.

I have only my personal, imperfect memories of them, some of which may be colored by my perceptions more than reality. My grandparents and parents could have spoken for themselves even after they left by leaving some record of their life—but they didn’t. I guess they were too busy living and making a living. Now four generations separate them from my great grandchildren. I had to dig in hard ground to find out anything about my ancestry. Like an eager detective, I followed slim clues to see if they would lead anywhere. Thank God they led to a rich treasure! I was amazed, surprised, delighted, and excited with every small gem of the past that I discovered. Sad to say, no matter how deep I dig, I will never be able to recover some parts of our precious heritage which only my forebears knew. These are lost to our posterity.

It was not all their fault, however. When I was young, it didn’t even occur to me to ask about our ancestry or my grandparents’ earlier experiences. I didn’t really care at the time; but I certainly did later. How I regret my youthful thoughtlessness!

Perhaps you think your family members too, especially the younger generations, may not care about their past right now. Children rarely give a thought to their roots when they see their more exciting futures stretching out seemingly open-end before them. Be that as it may, I suggest that it is your responsibility to prepare for the time when they will care. It is up to you to fulfill your trunk destiny and pass on the essence of yourself, what you know of your priceless past, and how important your Christian faith is to you.

Perhaps you’ve never have thought about doing this. On the other hand, you may always have wanted to. So you’re not an experienced writer or published author? Never mind; you are already qualified simply because you have lived. With a word processor at your finger tips, what excuse do you have? You don’t have to chisel into stone like Moses did, or write on papyrus. No one knows your story better than you. I encourage you to go ahead and do it your way. Everyone’s memories are in a personal storehouse. There are ways to stimulate your recall and get your memory juices flowing. The past is gone, but you can bring it back and share it vividly not only with present but future readers.

You don’t need to write a big, fat autobiography or publish your story on a press. It’s your choice what and how much you want to write. Perhaps only a partial memoir of some significant period of your life, your family history, or your faith journey. You may be satisfied to compile your writing in a notebook or folder or some easy, manageable way and then duplicate a few copies at Staples for your family or friends.

Who cares about your story? First of all, you do! You don’t want to be forgotten, do you? By writing your story you are saying to the world: “Here I am. God gave me life. I have lived. I want you to know me. I want to tell you what I went through and how I felt about it.” Who else cares? God does. Since you are a Christian, God considers you a steward of the experiences He brought you through and of what He taught you through them. He gives you a spiritual mandate to pass on those things; it is your opportunity and wonderful privilege. You could let the following verse from Psalm 102:18 serve as your statement for writing. “Let this be recorded for the generation yet unborn, a people yet to be created [so that they] may praise the Lord.”

It is more difficult for some people than for others to speak of their faith openly to family members. You may be more comfortable with putting something on paper. Here’s your opportunity! Such words could be read by family members and others in years to come, even by other generations after you are no longer living.

Writing your life story should be a delightful adventure not a labored, overwhelming task. No one is breathing down your neck insisting that you do it in a certain way or criticize your efforts. What’s not to like? This is your life, you lived it your way, and you are free to write it your way--and have fun doing it!


Leona Choy has published a How-to-do-it book for leaving legacy footprints by writing memoirs: THIS IS YOUR LIFE—WRITE IT! is available through her publishing company,



“This is my mom’s advice,” writes Lemuel, the king of Massa in Northern Arabia, an area thought to be settled by the Ishmaelites, He is the author of the famous chapter 31 of the book of Proverbs in our Bible.

We don’t know the name of the king’s mama, but she was very specific and wise in spelling out the best qualifications for the wife her son should look for. My question is, was she realistic?

The description of the ideal woman has long been held up as the high standard toward which we, as handmaids of the Lord, should try to attain. Translating it into modern terms, she seems to be a super woman who combines being an ideal wife with a large family and a career plus a business, no less. Add charm and beauty and faithfulness and godliness—whew! Yes, and she does it all without the gadgetry, technology, and modern appliances we have at our disposal. She even does her work by lamplight after the kids are in bed. Gosh! Then she gets up while it is still dark and makes the oatmeal for breakfast and goes to the Health Center to pursue an exercise program to boot!

She is a shrewd shopper with an eye for quality bargains. She goes to great lengths and great distances to get just the right items, particularly imports. She makes fashionable clothes for herself as well as for her children. The kids don’t follow other trends in their dress; they set the trends at school. Her designer clothes are so much in demand that she started a garment company to supply chic merchandise, particularly gold-studded belts, for export. Did I mention that she has a real estate license? She turns such a profit from her businesses that she invests in property to plant a vineyard with an eye to eventually building a winery. Imagine—she still has time for philanthropic involvement in charitable works especially for the poor and needy.

Apparently she is an expert in time management and human resources. Because of how generously she treats her household help, people clamor to get hired for work at her house. Would you believe, she sets aside hours in her Day-Timer for mentoring younger women who come to her home for advice. They spread the word about her wisdom and teaching so that there’s always a waiting list for counseling.

Of course, it’s a given that she has ideal husband! According to the grapevine, he comes straight home from work because he doesn’t have any reason for a wandering eye—look who he has at home! He trusts her implicitly and never worries about where she is or what she’s doing. (She obviously doesn’t have time to get into trouble anyway!) Probably she meets him at the door after she’s all showered and perfumed and dolled up and hands him his slippers and newspaper and a cold one. Evidently, her husband is prominent in the public arena and is well-known among his contemporaries in politics and affairs of state.

You should hear her kids talk about their mom around the neighborhood. They are echoing their dad who is always bragging on mom: “There are a lot of women out there, but she is the best!” Dad and the kids even organized a “surpraise” party for mom inviting hundreds of relatives and friends to laud and applaud her at a festive banquet in the City Gates Hilton. (v. 31)

So then—If you’ve been holding your breath throughout this description, it would be a good time to exhale. If you think I’ve been exaggerating or fictionizing, read Proverbs 31:10-31 for yourself and put it into the context of our modern times.

But don’t miss the punch line—read the second half of verse 30. She was above all a woman of faith in God. Her faith permeated her character and her work, all of what she was and did. Without her faith foundation and God’s enabling, she could not have been that capable. Her faith made it possible for her to “laugh at the days to come” (verse 25), or in another translation, “smile at the future.” The note explaining that verse says, “anticipates the future with gladness free from anxiety.” That is the focus of it all, literally the bottom line, and the touchstone of the life of this marvelous real-life woman.

(Let’s hope that King Lemuel found that special woman who fit his mom’s qualifications. May they truly have “lived happily ever after.”)

Where does that leave us women of the third millennium? Let’s be realistic. We are not all as gifted and skilled or capable, proficient, competent, and accomplished as the Proverbs 31 woman seemed to be. It would seem to be an impossible dream. Jesus gives us hope. He explained that some are given ten talents (measures of money or other gifts); some received five, some were given one. They are given. We are not responsible for what we have not been given, only for what we have received. God expects good stewardship of whatever resources and opportunities He Himself has granted us.

Faith in God is our foundation too. All else we build upon it. And as we build upon it a “gold and silver and precious stones” superstructure of life, (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) we too can “smile at the future” in confident trust in God. Moreover, we will find God smiling at us with pleasure and satisfaction and declaring, “Well done, good and faithful handmaiden! Enter into the joy of the Lord!”



PLEASE BE QUIET! Haven’t we heard or said those three words repeatedly all our lives? We all seek peace and quiet in some way because the world is increasingly cacophonous. Don’t you hate the deafening whirr and roar of power lawnmowers? Have you considered “Environmentally friendly vegetation management?” A business called “Goats-R-Us” will lease you “Soft and Silent Machines” with four legs and horns to take care of your lawn or fields and in the process they will consume most of the things you would normally take to the dumpster!

Noise brings out the worst in us; it is a form of air pollution that takes a toll on our bodies by increasing blood pressure and heart rate and stressing our minds. Repeated super-loud noise is not only a nuisance and assault to our ears, but can actually cause deafness. Stress hormones from noise surge into our bloodstream and cause illness.

Where can we find the quiet we long for? Can we ever escape noise in our modern world? We must 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 never to end in our crowded urban areas. A move to the suburbs simply substitutes one environmental noise for another. People pay big money for vacation trips to escape to some quiet corner of the world—only to discover that there is no silent 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 now designate quiet floors; some hospitals mandate “quiet time” for an hour or two daily in an effort toward healing and rest. The practice has met with positive patient response. Daycare centers include quiet times to subdue the hubbub for the well being of young children.

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

Well then, can we legislate silence? The EPA has determined that noise above 55 decibels outdoors and 45 decibels indoors is detrimental to concentration and work production. Would you believe, noise levels of more than 100 decibels are the norm on today’s dance floors! I heard of a rock music festival in 2005 promoted as a “silent disco.” Everyone wore wireless headphones and partied until dawn without disturbing nearby residents. Activist groups rally to increase awareness of and fight noise pollution; they lobby 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.

Have you considered that complete silence may not really exist? In an effort to find it, a park outside of Los Angeles offers a two hour silent hike to “let nature speak for itself.” However, even our God-created natural world is surprisingly loud. Living creatures buzz, chirp, croak, squawk, cackle, screech, hoot, bellow, moo, and whinny, but they don’t assault our mental state as much as mechanical sounds. So then, do we have to go out into space to find quiet? Science tells us that the universe is not silent either!

Should we try to isolate ourselves in our search for quiet and tranquility? Being alone may not bring the kind of peace we are looking for—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 and even jog with a Walkman or IPod. Some children 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.

As a last resort, let’s go to bed and sleep soundly to achieve our silence. Ah, but our ears never completely switch off sounds even when we sleep; the brain still registers noise. We hear things while sleeping that in the normal course of daily life are drowned out. And if our spouse snores, we lie awake and our nighttime blood pressure spikes!

Peace and quiet are not the same. You can find relative quiet and still not have peace. Peace is an inward sense of harmony, rest, and stillness. Peace is a God-thing. Jesus promised, “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.” (John 14:27) It is a tranquil calmness of the soul, one’s inner spirit. Peace is obedience to the will of God and union with His Holy Spirit. It can even be achieved without absolute silence, although silence enhances the possibility of peace. Cistercian monk and priest, Thomas Keating, declared that silence is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation. Sacred Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We long to be led “by still waters” so that our soul can be restored.

The saints, the holy men and women of God through the ages, knew the value of silence in relation to God’s peace. They were able to confront themselves in silence and also hear the voice of God. Nothing less should be our goal. The question is not to whom does God speak, but who listens. Scripture tells us that the voice of God is heard as a still, small voice, not in the rumble of an earthquake or the noise of the whirlwind.

Can I honestly excuse myself by claiming that in the hubbub of my daily life and busy household or pursuit of career I don’t have time to seek God in silence? Of course it takes careful planning and earnest spiritual desire to carve out slices of silence in our daily lives. Nevertheless, it is essential for our spiritual welfare and progress in holiness.

In the book of Ecclesiastes we read, “There is an appointed time for everything…there is a time to be silent.” (3:1,7) In Psalm 62:1 King David says, “My soul waits in silence for God alone.” Silent spiritual retreats are making a comeback. Contemplation as a deep communion with God draws us through silence. Investing our quiet time to gaze on the beauty of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration is priceless.

The rewards of waiting in silence upon God are far out of proportion to our feeble efforts. Listen! God wants to speak to you in your silence!



Have you seen that TV commercial featuring a rooster crowing at the foot of an insomniac’s bed with the voiceover, “Are you tired of morning coming in the middle of the night?” It targets some of us who habitually wake up and can’t go back to sleep. Ah, a new sleeping pill is the solution we’re told. Another ad informs us that our hectic times leave us sleep deprived, that on the average most adults get six or less hours of sleep whether in “Motel 6” or on the home turf of our own bedrooms. The commercial assures us we’ll get “a better six” by sleeping on their brand of mattress.

I agree about the six or less sleep hours. In my teens, no problem—I often “slept the clock around” as my frustrated mother called my happy adolescent sleep pattern. I think it all started in child raising years. Sleeping through the night became a fantasy. At this latter season of my life, my sleep habit is weird. Here’s my pattern: No matter when I go to bed, I sleep soundly only for the first couple of hours (my vivid dream time). I seldom sleep beyond 3 a.m.–I’m typically wakeful after that—not necessarily stressed or anxious or worried about anything—just awake. This is not the sleep mode I would choose! But I usually accept the deviation from the norm and stay snuggled in bed in a sort of twilight zone.

Since my spirit is awake while my body is resting, kind of relaxed and only semi-conscious, I began to wonder whether my wakefulness may have something to do with what the Lord wants to do in or through me. I’m discovering that it can become a sweet, intimate time to worship and adore the Lord and draw closer to Him. Why should I waste those precious quiet hours that could belong uniquely to God? As a new Catholic Christian, I remind myself that the 3 o’clock hour in the afternoon and at night has sacred connotations as the time our Lord and Savior gave up His spirit to the Father on the cross.

Gradually I’m trying to use that wakeful time to be open to God’s voice. As Samuel in the Old Testament account was instructed to respond in the middle of the night when he heard God call him, I mentally pray, “Here I am, Lord. Speak, for Your servant is listening.” I’ve concluded that God may be nudging me awake or keeping me awake and subdued and docile so He can have my undivided attention. Daylight hours are too noisy with activity to hear Him clearly. He doesn’t “speak” audibly through my ears but by impressing my heart.

I’m learning to welcome the Holy Spirit to bring to my mind and my spirit whomever or whatever He wants me to pray for—even out of the blue. So I let my spirit gently float flutter about in what I call “butterfly praying.” Sometimes with words, often only with silence and peace. My spirit may pray in mental prayer. At other times I may mention a name, or recall a face, near or far, those in residence in heaven and those on earth. I don’t think it’s important for me to know exactly how to pray for someone. I do pray with knowledge for those who have shared their specific needs. I lift up to God those who have touched my life in some way, by some encounter during that day.

After I rise in the morning, I usually don't remember the details of my twilight zone praying. God already knows, and I commit my intimate intercession into His hands and trust Him to answer according to His perfect will and time and way. If I toss and turn restlessly trying to force myself to sleep, I end up feeling exhausted. If I’ve invested my wakeful night hours in this alternative way, I don’t feel sleep deprived. This all contributes to having “a better six”. I might even say that the rooster at the foot of my bed has become a friend!



Of course the Internet wasn’t invented in Paul's day. He didn’t even have mail by pony express. When he wrote to the churches he founded, the letters would have to go by ship, then by foot, hand-carried. They were meant to be read and re-read aloud by the young congregation and passed around to other groups of believers. And preserved for future Christians.

The apostle Paul had to write down his prayers as well as his instructions and encouragement for building up the fledgling believers. Nineteen of his prayers, short and long, for all different circumstances and geographical locations are recorded in Scripture for our edification. Because we, more than twenty centuries later can still read them, study them, hear them in our liturgy, and be blessed and built up in our faith by Paul’s prayers, shows that what we pray doesn’t pass away, become obsolete, or diminish in spiritual power. Paul’s written prayers are just as efficacious as they were when he freshly prayed them. And so are our prayers!

Don’t you think Paul would have used every technological and scientific invention and modern media if he had them? I’ll wager he would have written his prayers and sent them instantly through cyberspace by e-mail!

Having spent most my life as a Protestant evangelical, I had somewhat of a struggle after I was happily received into the Catholic Church, to be confronted with what I used to call “frozen or canned prayers.” Painting with a broad brush, of course, generally we didn’t think a prayer was “real” unless it was homemade—in our own words—ad lib. We thought we praying “from the heart” could not mean reciting a stale prayer from some musty page or writer in the past. Somehow we thought God wouldn’t listen to our prayers unless we crafted them on the spot by the seat of our pants.

Did we overlook the fact that not only were Paul’s prayers written, but most of the Psalms were written as prayers by King David the Songwriter; so were some by Daniel and Moses and others. How spiritually impoverished we would be without them!

I have come to understand now what a treasure our Church has in the recorded prayers of the early church fathers and the saintly men and women through many past generations. They knew God intimately and poured out their hearts in prayers. We can pray with them in the power of the Holy Spirit’s intercession. My prayer book is a gold mine of fresh spiritual power as I join my spirit with those who wrote the prayers.

OK, but now I do have modern media at my disposal. I have e-mail to connect with friends, loved ones, needy people, hurting people, those who reach out to me asking, “Please pray for me.” I’m finding that it isn’t enough to promise them “Yes, I will.” I sense the Holy Spirit’s urging, “Well then, DO IT!”

Who, me, Lord? By e-mail? I’m not Paul or David. Surely what I pray is not worthy of being put down in black and white. That would be true, if I write it in the flesh with my own thoughts. And true, unless I invoke the Holy Spirit’s help to bring my prayers through the mediation of Jesus directly to the Heavenly Father. Only God is omniscient—I don’t know what my friend’s deepest needs are, but the Spirit knows. The Holy Spirit will shape them according to the will of the Father so that the prayers are certain to be answered.

When I write a prayer, I must quietly listen first to what God wants to do in the life of my friend for whom I pray. I should not try to be eloquent but simple and heartfelt. I must not speak or pray out of turn. I must not superimpose my thoughts or preach my ideas disguised as prayers. I must pray Scripture into my friend’s spirit because therein lies God’s mighty power.

I must be receptive to the gifts of the Spirit that He would give me as I pray for that person. I must open myself to dispensing the spiritual works of mercy as I write: to “admonish sinners, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, be patient with those in error, forgive all injuries, pray for the living and the dead.”

When I write a prayer, I must ask the Holy Spirit's help to discern my friend’s circumstances and needs. When I have prayed, I commit my friend to the perfect will of God in Christ Jesus. I will pray with David, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart [and the prayer that I write] be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.”



I gave birth to my first three children in three years in my early twenties. Some of my friends who met me on the street in Hong Kong where my husband Ted and I were missionaries would ask me, “Are you still pregnant with the same child or is this another one?” I was happy to be pregnant! I loved children then and now that I am a great-grandmother. More than sixty years have come and gone since then and I am far beyond childbearing years in the natural. But guess what? I continue to be delighted and thankful to be PREGNANT AGAIN!

No, I’m not in the rare class of certain women in the Bible like Sarah and Elizabeth who became pregnant in their old age. For them it was supernatural and not in the natural course of human reproduction. Nevertheless, God seems to expect godly older women to continue the reproductive cycle by “bringing forth” not biological children but spiritual offspring. There is no chronological limit on being pregnant with the purposes of God and continuing in spiritual fruitfulness to the end of life.

In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul instructs, “…the older women must behave in ways that befit those who belong to God….by their good example they must teach the younger women….” (Titus 2:3-5). Then, the always practical Paul puts his spiritual finger on aspects of life that may trip up the more mature women and boldly lists them. Likewise he lists some of the pitfalls that younger women may stumble into with which the older women can help them. Read them for yourself.

Paul’s point is: mature women, first, shape up yourselves; then reproduce yourselves in younger women by example and instruction. How do you define “older women” and “younger women”? Younger is anyone younger than you in chronological age or in spiritual journey. The ages may even flip upside down—an older woman who is young in our faith or just beginning her journey may be taught and role-modeled by younger women who are further along in their spiritual journey. In Christ there is no age distinction.

Ask yourself whether you are happily pregnant with your faith. Are you reproducing your spiritual life in other women? Are you currently mentoring anyone in our faith? If you are an empty nest mom, could you spiritually nurture a young mom who is overwhelmed with child care or household routine? If you are a grandma, could you cultivate a faith-friendship with a woman who is just approaching that season of life and feels that she is no longer useful or needed? Single women of any age are not left out of the reproductive picture. They too can become pregnant and bring forth spiritual offspring as readily in our secular society and in the marketplace as religious sisters do in convents and cloisters. As a well-married woman, could you make spiritually reproductive friendships with some newlywed gals who could benefit from your experience?

In a more formal way in your Church context, could you volunteer to reproduce your faith by being a sponsor or mentor in the Learning Center or youth outreach? How about involvement in something exciting like Christian Mothers' groups where spiritually and biologically pregnant young women and moms encourage each other? Or at the other end of the age spectrum, the Seniors Fellowship where late (spiritual) pregnancies can bring forth friendships that will encourage mature women to keep pressing on with endurance in our faith?

The apostle Paul had a younger Timothy (doubtless many more than one) into whom he poured himself spiritually and in whose future leadership he invested. Although apparently being unmarried himself, he called himself a “father” to those he brought into the faith and discipled. In his pastoral instruction to Titus he encouraged godly women to have their “Timothys” too, younger women to whom they could likewise be “mothers” and coach in the faith and in practical Christian living.

Who better than women could wisely and discreetly “gossip the gospel” in an early Christian society where believers were severely persecuted? Women have always been well suited for personal evangelism by virtue of their household and family presence to influence and assist other women in a most natural way. The same is true in our generation.

Whatever our age, let us aim for LIFELONG PREGNANCY to bring forth as many spiritual children as we can to enter the courts of heaven with us!



Our life is like a book with chapters. If we’ve written many chapters already, we may look back and feel as if we were different persons in each of those chapters. In a sense we were; as we matured, we assumed different roles in the various chapters (seasons) of our life.

We’re always told not to read the final chapter of a book to see how it turned out, but to wait and be surprised. The Mother of Jesus was unique, however, because God gave her a prophetic peek through old Simeon at the Presentation of baby Jesus in the temple. He revealed one of the later chapters of her life that would pierce her heart. You and I aren’t privy to such a revelation; perhaps it is best that we are spared that glimpse. Either we would be too eager to reach the happy ending of our life story—or drag our feet if we knew in advance about some trial that is to come.

If you are a bookworm like I am, you too may like to inhale books. As a writer, I guess I think in chapters. I love to read all kinds of books, especially biographies and dramatic New York Times bestsellers, if they are clean. If I have any addiction, it is that I pig out when I read a book—once started, I overeat it. I swallow it whole, gobble it up almost at one sitting. I’m compelled to read it to the finish. Let the world go by; nothing else will get done. And I insist on having another good book waiting in the wings to start reading right away.

Oh, then I feel guilty for not redeeming the time, and I decide to pray and fast from such pleasure reading for long periods—like during Lent. Yes, I can do it with God’s help, for awhile. But if I so much as yield to the temptation and leaf through another novel that has been lying there just beckoning to me, I’m hooked again! Like an alcoholic, I can’t take just one sip; I can’t take a ten minute reading snack. I’m off again on my long pleasure cruise. So much for confession.

My original point is that our lives are like the chapters in a book, a biography. You start with the front matter, the background stuff that launches you, like the Acknowledgments, Foreword, and Introduction, maybe a Preface. God has already predetermined the setting, chosen your DNA, and the circumstances where the drama will take place. He ordained the plot and the characters who will interact with you in life. It’s going to be a real page-turner, for sure!

Each chapter is separate and chronologically progressive. No single chapter is the whole book; the plot keeps unfolding, so don’t get bent out of shape how things are portrayed in a particular chapter, like the one you are living in right now. God is at work developing the whole exciting adventure story of your life. Don’t despair half way through. Just hang in there…everything will pass. The kids who are in diapers now will walk down the aisle in cap and gown and later in wedding apparel. The stuff you worry about which you don’t think you can possibly live through, you may not even remember when you’re living in the next chapter.

You can probably anticipate a generous basketful of serendipity times and events and adventures that will contribute to the fulfilling of your dreams. And a ton of ordinary days and events. The trivial stuff and humdrum routines are said to be the building blocks to develop your holiness. Mary surely must have had many joyful but ordinary homespun times with Joseph and her son Jesus as He was growing up; not all things they said and did would have been earth-shaking and serious. Since life is made up of so many commonplace daily doings, enjoy each chapter in the now and treasure the beloved characters who are living it with you. In your life book some characters will come and others will go. Keep offering up all things joyful and painful to God and accept His big plan for your life story. Live fully in the present chapter until God turns the page to the next chapter.

There are times in life when you may think you have surely reached the last chapter and God must be getting ready to close your book. Don’t be so sure! As I approached my eightieth year, I thought I had written the final chapter in my literally about-to-be-published autobiography. What more could God possibly have left for me to experience in life? Little did I know that not one but several more incredible chapters (and another book or two or more) were about to unfold. I was right on the verge of what I consider the greatest faith paradigm change of my life—I became a Catholic Christian after a lifetime as a Protestant evangelical missionary, teacher, writer, and broadcaster.

Let's always be eager for God’s breathtaking, fantastic surprises in your next chapter! As a Christian of any age, no matter how many or how few chapters you have lived through, or how many different roles you have played, you can look forward to a grand Epilogue, a fitting climax, even after God writes the last chapter in your earthly life story—it will be Eternity in the Presence of the Blessed Trinity! As they say, “The best is yet to come!” So celebrate each chapter as a gift from God!