Now Sings My Soul: A New Song of Promises Kept

Cover of Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the LordIf any single project could sum up my collaboration with my Holy GhostWriter, it would be Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the Lord. Without our creative partnership, none of these songs would have been conceived, let alone brought into the world.

Admittedly, the labor pains got pretty intense at times.

  • More than a hundred of my hymns and faith songs were selected and polished. And polished some more.
  • The interior layout was designed for an 8.5″ x 11″ print book: fonts, sizes, pagination, headers, footers, sections, title pages, art, etc.
  • Lyrics were laid out in stanza format on individual pages, along with suggested themes and scripture references for every song—a monster task in itself.
    Many thanks to my posse of Bible-loving helpers who contributed scripture suggestions, especially Lisa Kesinger DeVinney, Ann Marin Frizzell, Vi Gommer, and Angela Davis.
  • The musical settings were tweaked and formatted as book pages in a consistent style, with headers and footers and mirror margins.
    (Many thanks to the developers and community of MuseScore, the free, open source music notation program I use to engrave scores.)

Score of Now Sings My Soul a New Song (Click on the image to download the PDF score. Click here to listen to my arrangement of the tune. If the mp3 doesn’t load fast enough on your device, try the midi file on the Now Sings My Soul~Audio page.)

  • Songs were sequenced so that closely related songs would be displayed on facing text pages and two-page scores would be displayed on facing pages to eliminate mid-song page turns. Every time songs were reshuffled, the scores had to be renumbered and margins adjusted for odd/even page location.
  • Five indexes were designed and formatted and built. Multiple times.
    (I may write a separate blog post to share my hard-won experience with other writers who want to know how to add a scripture index to a Word manuscript.)
  • All the pages were fine-tuned for consistent layout, printed to PDF files, assembled into a single interior PDF file, and submitted to CreateSpace (the printer for my indie books) for trial processing. Multiple times.
    (How to convert music scores to PDF for CreateSpace without either your music notation or yourself going buggy may be the subject of another what-I-learned-the-hard-way post.)
  • The book cover was designed, tweaked, sized, given a bar code with the book’s ISBN and price embedded, and submitted as a PDF file to CreateSpace for trial processing. Also multiple times.
    Many thanks to Nel Bernard of Centrepole Art Glass Studio, who graciously gave permission to modify a photo of his beautiful Tree of Life stained glass window in Bradbury Chapel, Canton, Maine (below) for my cover image. Thanks also to Steve at Bookow.com, who creates price-embedded barcodes for book covers at no charge for indie authors like me.

Nel Bernard's Tree of Life window

  • The interior and cover were modified for a Musicians Edition, which omits the text-only lyrics section.
  • The interior, cover, and indexes were completely revamped for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ Readers Edition, which contains the lyrics section but no scores.

Readers Edition page with lyrics and suggested themes and Bible verses for Now Sings My Soul a New Song(Click on the image to download a PDF of this page from the Readers Edition.)

  • The Readers Edition was reformatted from scratch for a Kindle ebook version.
  • Book files for all the editions and versions were submitted for review, and tweaked, and resubmitted some more, until I was satisfied that I had done the best I could.
  • More than 250 audio files were generated in MuseScore and linked to the book’s audio page here on Faith Songs.

And that’s on top of writing all those hymn texts and song lyrics (plus a few of the tunes) in the first place!

Finally, the gestation period was over.

After some two years of work on the project, a sample of the paper-and-ink book was delivered. All the travails, all the months of anxious anticipation were eclipsed by excitement and a sense of accomplishment when I held my pride and joy in my hands. Three editions—triplets!

Yes, more work lies ahead. But it was a moment of sheer grace to see the tangible proof: Once again, the Lord has kept his promises.

I hope the same joy and grace will fill everyone who joins me in singing new songs for the Lord.

Blessings,
Linda

______________

Book details

Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the Lord

Buy on Amazon:
Full Edition
Musicians Edition
Readers Edition (paperback)
Readers Edition (Kindle)

 

Meditations on Calvary~Book Launch

 

In 2016, Harpursville United Methodist Church and Nineveh Presbyterian Church hosted my new Lenten devotional series based on the old spiritual “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” Each weekly session explored the experiences of people who were present when Jesus Christ was arrested and executed, plus a few who were conspicuously absent. Those scriptures, songs, and meditations touched hearts. So I resolved to bring the series to a wider audience in book form.

It’s finally here!

Were You There When They Crucified Our Lord? Meditations on Calvary is now live on Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback editions. Companion resources for readers, presenters, and musicians are ready for free download here on Faith Songs, too.

Were You There book coverBook details
Music resources
Study resources

 

 

 

 

Blessings,
Linda
(Post edited 11/6/17)

 

Facing Deployment? You’re Not Alone

Lord, Though I Travel Afar, prayer hymn by Linda Bonney Olin

The Lord’s arms stretch wide enough to hold you close—you and the dear ones you had to leave behind—no matter how many miles or months separate you.

You have no family or friends eagerly waiting to welcome you home from deployment? Remember, you and the Lord are always a family of two. Everywhere you go, the Lord is there.

Psalms 139:1–12.

Please share the picture on social media and give a copy of “Lord, Though I Travel Afar” to someone you know who is away from home on military duty or missionary assignment. Let’s send our love and prayer support to all the men and women who are making such a sacrifice to help secure freedom from oppression around the world.

Blessings,
Linda

P.S. As you may have guessed, “Lord, Though I Travel Afar” is a prayer set to music. The tune I chose is ITALIAN HYMN.  MIDI      MP3

I hope you enjoy singing it as well as praying the words, especially the distinctive four-note phrase that boldly proclaims the third line of each stanza. That’s my favorite part!

Lord, Though I Travel Afar

Lord, though I travel afar,
where I go, you already are.
I’m not alone!
In every strange new place,
upheld by faith and grace,
I shall find strength to face
any unknown.

Lord, as I sail stormy seas,
your presence sets my soul at ease.
I can be brave
with my all-knowing guide
always close by my side,
till I have safe arrived
through wind and wave.

Lord of the turbulent heights,
your pow’r and love surround my flights.
With you I soar
high above everything,
as on an eagle’s wing!
Filled with your peace, I sing,
fearful no more.

Lord, when you call me to roam,
leaving my dearest ones at home,
I trust your care.
You will watch over them:
love, comfort, and defend
till I come home again.
You will be there.

—Linda Bonney Olin
© 2016 Linda Bonney Olin

 

Store Up and Serve Up God’s Bounty

Photo of scripture verses stored in a canning jar

A special greeting to The Upper Room readers who are visiting Faith Songs for the first time. Welcome!

They read the Book of God’s Teachings clearly and explained the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
—Nehemiah 8:8, GW

I’m delighted to have a meditation, “Store Up God’s Word,” published today (May 21, 2016) in The Upper Room, which is my church’s daily devotional guide. It has numerous editions translated for a worldwide audience. It’s also the resource I favor for my personal devotion time.

Don’t subscribe to The Upper Room? No problem. They post the daily devos online. Check out the related pictures on Link2Life and my guest post on the blog, too. Please leave a comment, if you’re so inclined. I’d love to know what your favorite scripture verses and hymns are. If you look closely at the photo above, you might spot a few of my favorites peeking out of the canning jar.

(After May 21, my devo will be archived on the Upper Room website. You can still find it, by entering my name in the Search box. You’ll need to sign in before you can post a comment or read the whole of an archived devo, but signing up is a free formality.)

Off the shelf and onto my plate

“No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house.”
—Matthew 5:15, GNT

In my guest blog post, I mentioned that the Lord has assigned me to serve up the encouragement, guidance, and challenge I’ve stored up from his Word. Lots of people are hungry for it, that’s for sure. So, my Holy GhostWriter has kept me busy, cooking up Bible studies, Bible-based dramas, and new hymns.

Right now, I’m working on two book projects:

  • Were You There When They Crucified My Lord will be an informal Bible study inspired by the traditional spiritual of that name. Each session will focus on different individuals or groups who were present at the events surrounding Jesus Christ’s crucifixion—or conspicuous by their absence. New songs (a mix of group, solo, and duet) will help explore the spotlight characters’ experiences.
  • My second book of hymns and faith songs will offer sheet music and a scripture index for 60-80 of the new texts (AKA lyrics) I’ve written in the past several years. Most will be congregational hymns, all set to existing tunes. I’m also considering adding a section of “specials”: pieces that are better suited to a soloist or an SATB ensemble.

As you can imagine, formatting that many scores, laying out pages, and creating scripture indexes for a hymn book is a massive undertaking. I couldn’t persevere through these tedious and hair-tearing tasks without my posse of prayer warriors. ♥ Please join them, holding me and my work in your prayers.

And if you’d like to be notified by email when my upcoming books are released or one of my hymns is published in another hymnal (I’m thinking positive here!) or other news happens, please use my contact form to request that.

Six years to simmer

Woe  to those who say, “Let him make haste,
    let him speed his work that we may see it;
let the plan of the Holy One of Israel hasten to fulfillment,
    that we may know it!”
—Isaiah 5:19–21, NRSV

Short meditations are a wonderful way to share the riches of God’s Word, but writing them requires plenty of perseverance, too. Getting my first piece onto a page in The Upper Room has been a long-term effort—six years, to be exact!

The Upper Room magazine pageMy first submissions were handed back to me faster than an order of soda and fries. Then a few survived a little longer in the evaluation process. Then one made it all the way to the final round (yay!) before being axed (boo!).

I reworked the rejects and sent the new and improved versions to other devotional publications. Most of them found a home at Judson Press’s daily devo magazine The Secret Place (“Never Out of Sight” is coming up on June 17 in the Summer 2016 issue) and Penned from the Heart. Meanwhile, I kept honing my writing skills and submitting new work to The Upper Room.

Finally, good news arrived: “Store Up God’s Word” was accepted for publication.

 

Grab your spatula—er, pen

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
—Isaiah 52:7, NIV

Want to try your hand at serving up devotions to the world? Scope out the writers guidelines at The Upper Room and other devotional magazines that appeal to you. You often can find them by Googling the magazine title or its publisher’s name plus “writers guidelines” or “submission guidelines” in quotes. If you can attend a writers conference where a devotions editor is holding a workshop, jump at the chance. A representative of The Upper Room I met at Montrose Christian Writers Conference offered extremely helpful presentations and individual critiques.

The beauty of serving up our stored-up scriptures, in whatever form the Lord assigns you, is that the supply remaining in storage never diminishes! All the verses we open and share are still ready to use when our own need arises, perfectly preserved and just as fresh as the day God inspired them. Thank you, Lord!

Bon appétit!
Linda

 

New Footprints on Your Life

My Footprints on Your Life (for KELVINGROVE) by Linda Bonney Olin

This week marked the first anniversary of my dad’s reunion with his wife, elder daughter, and other cherished family in heaven. My friend Carol lost her mother this week too. So I decided to give photographer Edgaras Melsiskis’s lovely seagull another flight, this time carrying the updated words to “My Footprints on Your Life.”

Just as footprints on a sandy beach are constantly wiped away by the tide and replaced by fresh imprints, song lyrics can be renewed with new musical settings. “My Footprints on Your Life” was first published with an original melody in Songs for the Lord. I’ve recently adapted it for the tune DIVINE MYSTERIES and my personal favorite, KELVINGROVE. You can hear both settings on the Audio page, but here’s a handy link to listen to KELVINGROVE while you read the lyrics. (My audio is melody-only, because John Bell‘s lovely harmonization is copyrighted.)

My Footprints on Your Life

May my footprints on your heart be deep but gently laid
and remembrance of my presence never fully fade.
May your heart be ever warmed
by the bond of love we formed
and be comforted by sacred memories we made.

May my footprints on your mind inspire and challenge you
to search earnestly for what is just and what is true.
As you meet life’s twists and turns,
may the echo of my words
help you find the righteous way and guide you safely through.

May my footprints on your soul lead you to realms divine
like a treasure map to heaven I have left behind
in the hope one day you’ll be
with our Father God and me,
living joyfully again, together for all time.

Look inside yourself and see
marks that bind, yet set you free,
after I have said goodbye: my footprints on your life.

The footprints left behind by our loved ones aren’t washed away by the next big wave. If we’re fortunate, their marks, along with those of the Lord Jesus, will comfort us, inspire us, and ultimately lead us to our own reunion in the “realms divine.”

Blessings to you who mourn,
Linda

 

’Tis the Season~Lots of Seasons

Thanksgiving

Family photo and verse 1 of ThankfulThis is a special time of gratitude for blessings past, present, and sure to come. Thank you, dear family, friends, and fans for being the tremendous blessings you are! Thank you, Lord, for making all blessings possible!

This family photo was taken at my parents’ 25th anniversary party. My sister, Marie, passed away less than two months later. We’ve since lost Ma, Dad, and Aunt Annette too. But they all loved to have a good time with family, so lots of love and laughter echo through the years.

Words for a new song I titled “Thankful” were rolling through my head as I woke up this morning. That’s verse 1 in the picture. If you feel like singing, you can listen to the tune at hymnary.org. (HE LEADETH ME)

Harvest season on our farm is coming to a close. If the weather, equipment, and husband hold out, all the corn should be combined within a week or so.

Deer hunting season is on. Mostly that means I don’t go out walking around on our fields, even in my neon pink vest. You never know when some yobbo might have an attack of buck fever (or Bud fever) and decide to bag that purty pink deer for his girlfriend!

The Christmas season has been in full swing for a while now—at least, the shopping and schmaltzy-Christmas-music-playing part of it. The “real” part is almost upon us, too. Advent, the season of spiritual preparation for the arrival of Jesus, begins this coming Sunday, November 29, 2015.

Then there’s the gift-giving season of Lent.

Wait a minute! Lent? Gifts?? In November?!

Well, sort of.

Giving It Up for Lent by Linda Bonney OlinMy latest holiday gift-giving binge starts Thanksgiving Day and runs through Monday, November 30, 2015. The featured giveaway is the Kindle edition of Giving It Up for Lent~Leader Guide: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion. Grab a book for yourself and gift one to your pastor or small group leader, while the price is as right as it’s ever going to get. It’s available on Amazon.com.

Before I get busy peeling a pile of potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner, let me also thank all the folks who downloaded free copies of my single-script Transformed Resurrection Drama ebooks during the giveaway that just ended. Stay tuned, because I’m still in a gift-giving mood! At least one more book is already scheduled to be offered free in early December. Check back soon for details.

Speaking of thanks … You may have seen my plan to send thank-you books to the folks who took the time to post reviews of my books during the holiday season. Sad to say, I had to cancel that idea. Word is out that Amazon is penalizing authors who “compensate” reviewers in any form, even for an honest, voluntary review. Sorry! As far as I know, though, verbal expressions of appreciation haven’t been outlawed yet, so THANK YOU, reviewers!

Blessings of the season (all of them!) to you and yours.

Linda

 

 

James the Brother of Jesus ~ Transformed Again

unbeliefJesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Mark 6:1–6 (NLT)

As I prepared my sermon, songs, and prayers to go along with Mark 6:1–6, James the brother of Jesus struck me as the ideal “poster boy” for that Sunday’s topic of belief/unbelief. Not only was James mentioned by name in this scripture passage, but verses scattered throughout the New Testament reveal his transformation from unbelieving brother to ardent believer.

When I fill in for the pastor, I like to bring new music or a bit of drama (the good kind!) to the worship service. Why not a guest appearance by “James”? I’d already written a play in which James tells his faith story on a cutthroat TV talk show. But that was an edgy, half-hour musical comedy. To fit into a worship service, “James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed” needed a major transformation of its own.

Goodbye, comic characters! So long, songs! See ya later, subplot!

Trimming the dialogue to a straightforward, ten-minute interview perfectly suited my “Late to Faith” message.

Book cover, James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed by Linda Bonney OlinIn fact, the interview format is so versatile that I went the extra mile and added this version of the script to my books James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed and Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas. The updated editions are now “live” on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.com (my paperback printer). For information about the Transformed series, click here.

FREE bonus resources!

Let’s go an extra two miles! For a limited time, buyers of either book can receive a copy of my Mark 6:16 worship plan and resources:

  • Bulletin (modified)
  • Hymn selections for congregational singing
  • Call to worship, drawn from my song lyrics “Faith Isn’t Just a State of Mind” (I’ll throw in the sheet music for good measure)
  • Unison prayer
  • Scripture readings
  • Musical meditation for soloist, “Peering into Faith’s Foggy Window” (sheet music & mp3 accompaniment file of the tune PICARDY) You can play the mp3 accompaniment file to help you learn the song; or burn it onto a CD if you don’t have a live accompanist. Note that the sheet music is in F; the mp3 is in G flat to accommodate a lower vocal range.
  • Youth message
  • Sermon
  • Benediction

To request your free bonus bundle, forward your purchase confirmation email from Amazon or CreateSpace to Linda@LindaBonneyOlin(dot)com, and ask for “Unbelief Resources” in the body of your email.

Book cover, Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas by Linda Bonney OlinNow, my Holy Ghostwriter and I could use your help getting the word out to churches, small groups, and individuals who might enjoy using the Transformed Bible-based dramas for performance, reading, and/or discussion. Please mention my books to your pastor or worship leader. Better yet, order them a gift copy. Christmas is just around the corner!

And, as always, your prayer supported is greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much!
Linda

P.S. 11/19/2015 All five of the single script ebooks in the Transformed series, including James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed, will be on KDP FREE DAYS promotion starting Friday, November 20 through Tuesday, November 24. Details and more giveaways on my post Tis the Season for Gift-Giving.

 

Kathy Ide ~ 21 Days of Christmas

21 Days of Christmas book deliveryChristian author and editor Kathy Ide crossed my path several years ago at Montrose Christian Writers Conference, where she’s a favorite faculty member. When Kathy launched her latest project, a series of fiction-based devotional books, I eagerly accepted her invitation to send a few submissions for consideration. My story “The Last Ember” appears in the second book of the series, 21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift.

To celebrate the book’s release, I invite you to listen in on my virtual chat with Kathy Ide. (Don’t miss the giveaway announcement at the end of the Q & A!)

Linda:  Let’s get into the holiday mood by sharing a cherished Christmas memory. You first, Kathy.

Kathy:  When I was maybe ten years old, my mom asked my dad to build dollhouses for me and my two younger sisters for Christmas. He collected scrap lumber, carpet samples, strips of wallpaper, paint, and miniature furniture pieces. After working all day, then waiting for his daughters to go to bed, he stayed up late several nights in the garage, constructing a two-story house with five rooms, glued to a board that was painted green and had little trees and bushes in the wooden yard.

The night before Christmas Eve, the dollhouse was finally finished. And my mom asked, “Where are the other two?” What? “You have three daughters, Wayne. You can’t expect them to all share one dollhouse.”

Kathy Ide's Christmas memoryAfter a last-minute shopping trip, Dad stayed up all night and built two more houses. They were identical in size, shape, and floor plan, but with different wallpaper and paint and furnishings. When my sisters and I woke up on Christmas morning to three beautiful dollhouses, mine was the only one we could play with right away because the paint hadn’t yet dried on the other two! I still display the picture of those houses, with me and my sisters grinning from ear to ear, on my china cabinet.

Linda:  Thanks for sharing the photo with us. Cute!

Hmm … So many Christmases to choose from … Sifting through all those memories is a joy in itself!

Our first Christmas together, Bill and I didn’t have money to buy holiday decorations or gifts. I crafted tree ornaments from scraps of cereal-box cardboard and egg cartons, yarn, toilet paper tubes—you name it. Bill’s mom was too ill to do much baking for his father and four younger brothers, so my gift to the family was an IOU for one baked item per month for the coming year.

Unfortunately, my knowledge about baking could have fit on a recipe card, with room left over for the Gettysburg Address. The yeast rolls I painstakingly formed into beautiful cloverleaf shapes were as hard as baseballs (thanks for demonstrating the similarity, Doug!). The lemon filling oozed out of my jelly roll in yellow gobs. Even my mother’s moist brownie recipe came out so crusty that Ken bounced a knife off the top, trying to cut into it.

Linda's homemade ornamentsForty-plus years later, my brothers-in-law still snicker about the Year of Baked Goods. And those homemade ornaments hang in places of honor on our Christmas tree.

Every Christmas is special, of course. So being a contributing author in the Christmas edition of the Fiction Lover’s Devotionals is exciting. Tell us about that project, Kathy.

Kathy:  The series is published by BroadStreet Publishing. Each book is a collection of twenty-one short fiction stories, all written by different authors. Each story is followed by a brief Life Application, written by the author of the story, that suggests how the messages in the tale can be applied to daily life.

Linda:  I’ve contributed quite a few devotions to books, magazines, and inspirational web sites. Typically, devotions weave a meditation around an anecdote from the writer’s personal experience. It was a new challenge for me to write a fiction story with a devotional twist.

Kathy:  Yes, this series takes a unique approach. There are lots of compilations with short true stories out there. The Fiction Lover’s Devotionals are for readers who enjoy fiction. But beyond the entertainment value of Christian fiction, they give readers the additional depth they want in their quiet times with the Lord.

Linda:  Gathering and reviewing submissions and editing twenty stories per book has to be a massive amount of work. On top of that, you contribute one of the chapters yourself. Tell us about the piece you wrote for 21 Days of Christmas.

Kathy Ide

Kathy Ide

Kathy:  “Star Light, Star Bright” is a story of what might have gone through Joseph’s mind in the moments after Mary gave birth to Jesus. I loved imagining what it must have been like to realize that you’ve been called to teach God’s Son about God. Based on what Joseph was raised to believe about the Messiah, that experience must have been mind-blowing!

Linda:  You said it! I wrote a song for Joseph to sing at that very moment in a Christmas Eve nativity program at my church. The title “A Guardian’s Prayer” links Joseph’s experience to the challenge faced by all adoptive parents. The tune is a slightly modified version of TO GOD BE THE GLORY. Download sheet music

Each Fiction Lover’s Devotionals book is a collection on a particular theme, not just twenty-one random stories slapped between the covers. What themes are available besides the Christmas collection?

Kathy21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love was the first book in the series. 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships (for Valentine’s Day) and 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Motherhood will be released in 2016.

Linda:  How do you see people using these devotionals?

Kathy:  The books are being published as beautiful hardcover gift books and e-book versions—small enough to take with you, and with chapters short enough to read anywhere. You can enjoy these stories over breakfast, at lunch break, before bed, or curled up in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee or tea. These books could also be used in group settings—for your book club, Bible study, life group, Sunday school class, or just getting together with friends. They make terrific gifts too—especially 21 Days of Christmas! A Study Guide will be available for free at www.FictionDevo.com or as a 99-cent e-book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Linda:  The companion Study Guide is a great idea. A wealth of discussion questions popped into my head for “The Last Ember,” a contemporary story of a young cashier whose despair collides with grace on Christmas Eve. Hopefully it will generate a lot of discussion, especially if readers share their personal connections to the characters’ circumstances. I pray that the story will touch readers whose difficulties have tempted them to end their own lives.

Kathy:  This is my desire too! I know God can use these stories in a powerful way.

Linda:  Where can people purchase the book?

Kathy:  The print version of 21 Days of Christmas can be ordered online at Amazon, BN.com, ChristianBook.com, Cokesbury.com, and GoHastings.com. The e-book is available from Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, and Google Play.

Linda:  How can readers connect and respond after they read the books?

Kathy:  There’s a forum on FictionDevo.com where people can post responses to the books and the stories in them. They can also do that on Facebook.com/FictionDevo. I’m very excited to read about how God is using these stories in people’s lives.

Linda:  Now for the giveaway we promised …

Christmas Fun GiveawayKathy:  “Christmas Fun Giveaway,” featuring 21 Days of Christmas, is a great way to kick off the holiday season and get into the Christmas spirit! We’re giving away three “Christmas Fun” grand prizes plus seven second prizes, with autographed copies of 21 Days of Christmas and 21 Days of Grace plus more! There are nine ways to enter. Do as many as you like, but each option can be done only once. Deadline to enter is November 6, so act fast!  Edit 11/19/2015: Kathy’s Christmas Fun Giveaway is over and done with. But if you’d like to score a free copy of 21 Days of Christmas, check out my extra-special Christmas giftie for my extra-special supporters, until December 20, 2015. -Linda  

Linda:  Author-signed books are a treat, and the Fiction Lover’s Devotional hardcover gift books are absolutely beautiful. Thanks, Kathy!

My writing friends might also be interested in Kathy’s book Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. If you need editing services, or want to become an editor yourself, check out the many resources for Christian writers on KathyIde.com. Kathy posts her upcoming schedule of writers conferences there, too.

And thank you, friends, for sticking with us all the way to the end of Kathy’s visit. Please leave a comment. We’d love to hear your cherished Christmas memories!

My Father and Your Father

Come Dance with Me, verse 3 by Linda Bonney Olin“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20:17

Father. Abba.

Jesus addressed God this way in his prayers. His father, his daddy, who loved him dearly. Who told people that he was “well pleased” with his son. Who gave him instructions, and was there to support him as he carried them out. Then stepped back, leaving him to accomplish his greatest task on his own, trusting in his obedience.

Isn’t that the essence of any father-child relationship?

Godly fathers love, protect, guide, and empower their sons and daughters to become the fullest and best men and women they can be. But even if our human fathers fail, Jesus says very clearly that his Father God is our Father God too.

Yes, we too can run to God, crying, “Abba, Father!” God the Father has taught us how to live, and he stands ready to support us. And he steps back, giving us freedom of choice when it’s time to obey. I cherish that notion of my relationship with him.

Sadly, God the Father is being evicted from hymn lyrics these days

(along with “oppressive” references to his sovereignty, like Lord, throne, reign, and kingdom). “Inclusive language” that excludes masculine images and favors genderless or feminine terms for the deity is the order of the day. Masculine pronouns for God must be replaced with its or her, or else be eliminated altogether by repeating the noun, even if the resulting lyrics sound bloated and unnatural. The use of traditional collective words like man (which is tough to replace with a unisex lyrical equivalent, by the way) has been known to provoke accusations of indifference to—even participation in—the denigration and abuse of women.

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