After the Cross: Mary the Mother of Jesus

White cross on dark blue backgroundApril 8, 2014

I certainly didn’t intend a five-week gap between posts in my series about how people close to Jesus were transformed by his resurrection. But a few hours after I posted the meditation about the Apostle John, way back on Ash Wednesday, my mother was unexpectedly hospitalized. I hit the road to my parents’ home in Maine the next day. A month of turmoil later, I’m sitting in their kitchen, alone with my laptop and my thoughts about recent evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness—the same faithfulness Mary trusted through thick and thin.

Mary, as far as I can see, never doubted that the Lord God would fulfill all his amazing promises. She pondered and praised and treasured and obeyed, but never doubted. When she asked the angel Gabriel how she, a virgin, could birth the Savior, I hear surprised curiosity rather than skepticism in her question. Even at the cross, her faith did not falter. Of all Jesus’ family, friends, and followers, Mary alone watched her son suffer and die without losing confidence in the Lord God’s word that Jesus was the promised savior. She simply waited to see how—not if—the promise would be fulfilled.

In Mary the Mother of Jesus, Transformed, Mary strengthens John after the crucifixion by revealing her knowledge of God’s plans for Jesus. Even Jesus’ death, painful as it had been, couldn’t quench her faith.

MARY:  It’s not necessary for servants to understand their master’s plans, John. A faithful servant obeys his master and trusts his promises.

JOHN:  Are you suggesting that Jesus’ death is part of the Lord’s kingdom promise? (He shakes his head.) How could such a thing be?

MARY:  Do you remember the angel Gabriel’s answer to that question?

JOHN:  “The Lord God is able to bring it about. Nothing is impossible with God.” But—

MARY:  I know. Jesus’ death doesn’t make any sense, not to us. But his conception and birth didn’t make any sense either.

JOHN (wryly):  That’s true enough.

MARY:  Besides, look how generously our master in heaven has favored you and me with personal glimpses of his plans for the future. Shall we repay such extraordinary gifts with anything less than our complete trust?

 

August 11, 2014

Yes, it’s been four months since I started to write this post. When I began, I was sitting alone in my parents’ kitchen for the first time ever because, by the grace of God, I had been able to settle them into an assisted living facility in record time after Ma’s latest discharge from the hospital. I expected to do a little cleanup at the house, chauffeur her to another medical appointment or two, then drive home on the weekend to get my farm bookkeeping caught up before driving back to Maine for her next round of tests and procedures. But, Friday afternoon I arrived at an office too late to transact a piece of business for my parents, and I had to postpone my trip home. So I was still in town when the call came Saturday morning. My mother was in an ambulance en route to the emergency room.

She was barely responsive when I arrived. I didn’t know what to think, what to expect, what to do. Least of all, what to say. I asked if she’d like me to pray her rosary for her. She nodded, or at least I thought she did. Somehow the words bubbled up from my memory and out of my mouth. Fifty Hail Mary’s, ten at a time. Five Our Father’s and Glory Be’s. I probably missed something, but I don’t suppose the Lord held it against me.

The priest came in to give Ma the Anointing of the Sick. Doctors spoke to me, each grimmer than the last. It finally sank in. Ma wasn’t going to pull through this time.

I prayed to Jesus, as one child to another, asking him to deal as lovingly with my mother as he had dealt with his own. Hadn’t he put aside his agony on the cross to place his dear mother into John’s care? Now I placed my dear Ma into Jesus’ care. If not to heal her, at least to ease her journey to heaven.

A very short time later, she slipped away from this life, her hand clasped in mine.

I imagine Jesus, with great big smile, handing his good and faithful servant an Express Pass to Glory, to collect her reward for 84 years of devoted service. I think of the many blessings that fell into place for her and Dad over her last months—evidence of the heavenly master’s generous favor. Yes, my prayers were answered, long before they were uttered.

There’s so much more to tell, but I haven’t had the heart to write about it. Finishing this post is a start.

For more about my mother, Theresa Bonney:
Faith of Our Mothers

For more about Mary the mother of Jesus:
Luke

For more on Mary the Mother of Jesus, Transformed:
Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas

Please post a comment to commiserate, console, or converse. I’d love to hear from you.
—Linda

 

Who Doesn’t Love Books and Bargains?

Greetings from Faith Songs!

I almost feel as if I should introduce myself, after my two-month absence from Faith Songs. As many of you know, my parents’ health needs take me away from home (and away from my high-speed Internet) for weeks at a time, and that was the case for most of December and part of January. When I got home, my first priority (okay, second—after smooching my husband) was the farm bookkeeping. Besides the usual accounts payable/receivable and payroll, January is prime time for annual business reports, employer reports, tax reports, lender reports, Workers Comp audit reports—you get the idea. Squeezed in writing and submitting a few new hymns and devotions. No time for blogging.

New release: Transformed

Book cover TRANSFORMED: 5 Resurrection Dramas by Linda Bonney OlinWhen the bookkeeping finally hit a lull between deadlines, the Holy Spirit shifted me into high gear to get my latest drama book published. I polished the content, cover, and interior design to a high gloss with the help of my wonderful beta readers. The paperback edition of Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas rolled onto the cyber-shelves at  Amazon and CreateSpace the last week of January, and the Kindle version went up on Amazon shortly afterwards. Stay tuned for information about a Book Launch Party (exclusive giveaways, discounts, fun trivia, and who knows what-all) on Facebook. Hopefully I can get that scheduled before the book and I both curl up and yellow with age.

But, first!

My Holy Ghostwriter poked me to share some thoughts about the Bible characters in Transformed. I say “characters” because that’s what you call people in a play, but these were real people, even though the premises of the dramas are fictional (at least, I’m pretty sure none of the apostles ever appeared on a TV talk show!). In fact, the five lead characters were among Jesus Christ’s closest family and friends: his mother, Mary, and his brother James; the apostles Simon Peter and John; and his devoted disciple Mary Magdalene.

The five dramas portray how they were transformed by Jesus’ resurrection. But what about the soul-wrenching days that led up to it? What was each of those individuals doing, and thinking, and feeling after Jesus died, before news came that he’d risen from the tomb, alive? We tend to treat Holy Saturday like a blank page between Good Friday and Easter. That page deserves to be examined more closely before we turn it. That will be the focus of an upcoming series of posts here at Faith Songs.

Book Resources for Lent

In the meantime, I invite you to check out Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas on Amazon or CreateSpace. It offers drama, comedy, music—and best of all, life-changing truth.

Book cover of Giving It Up for Lent: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion by Linda Bonney OlinAnd don’t forget my other Lent resources: The Sacrifice Support Group: A Dramatic Comedy for Lent and Giving It Up for Lent: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion. ’Tis the season! Ash Wednesday is March 5, 2014.

Chances are, you’re not one of the few people who shop for church play scripts and Bible study materials for a church group. But my tribe (that’s you!) can pass the message to the people in your church who do buy them—pastors, worship leaders, drama teams, small group leaders, adult Sunday School teachers. Please do whatever you can to help me get the word to those folks. If you’re not a church person yourself, you probably know one or two you can mention it to.

Yes, the post title said “Bargains”

Trumpet fanfare! My Book Launch Party for Transformed will unveil a discount code of 50% on all my Christian drama books and Bible study workbooks. The code will be valid only on paperback editions, only at CreateSpace.com, and only on the Launch Party dates.

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My Life as a Dog ~ Obeying the Master

Sign showing a man with a dog on a leash

As requested, here are the sermons I delivered at worship services on October 20, 2013.

Before reading the sermons, click and read the Bible verses I’ll refer to:

Psalm 19:7–14
John 8:3–11
John 14:10–24
Matthew 22:34–40
2 Timothy 4:1–5

Youth Message ~ YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!

What’s a boss?

When grownups talk about their boss, they probably mean the person at their job who tells them what to do, maybe the person who owns the company they work for. The dictionary says a boss can be anyone who makes decisions, exercises authority, controls, dominates, and so on.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You’re not the boss of me”? What was the situation?

I thought that was a modern expression from a TV show or something. But I looked it up and discovered it’s been said in books for more than a hundred years. Usually the situation is that an older brother or sister told a kid to do something, or to stop doing something. The kid doesn’t want to obey and is sick of getting ordered around by someone who has no right to give orders. So the kid snaps back, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Now, if [a parishioner] said to me, “Linda, shut up and sit down,” I could say, “You’re not the boss of me!” and keep right on talking, because I don’t have to obey [the parishioner]. I wouldn’t actually say that, because that would be pretty rude. Saying that could get you in trouble, especially when the person telling you “Do this, don’t do that” really is the boss of you!

Who really is the boss of you? Who has the right to tell kids what to do? Parents? Teachers? Those are the main people you’re supposed to obey.

But there is one more, who’s really important.

I looked up another word on dictionary.com. The definition was: “a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler. One who exercises restraint or direction over; dominates; commands.” Sounds a lot like the definition of a boss, right?

The word I looked up was Lord. For thousands of years, people have called God “Lord,” and Christians call Jesus our Lord and our Master. Why? Because he is the boss of us. He’s the boss of everyone.

Message ~ MY LIFE AS A DOG: OBEYING THE MASTER

Well-trained dogs

I get a kick out of watching the annual Westminster Club Dog Show on television, seeing all the various breeds with their different sizes and shapes and temperaments. One thing they all have in common is being trained to obey commands. They sit. They stay. They jog around the ring on a leash.

I’ve never seen one bite the judge. They don’t jump all over him and sniff his pants. Sometimes a dog gets overly frisky, but generally show dogs behave very well, thanks to their training.

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Faith of Our Mothers ~ Theresa Bonney

Photo of Linda and Theresa Bonney at Pleasure Island ParkThis is the only photo I could find of me and my mother when I was a kid. Like me, Ma usually was the one behind the camera, snapping shots of Dad, my sister, and me on our family jaunts to small theme parks in Maine and New Hampshire. This one was taken at  pirate-themed Pleasure Island. I was ten years old.

Ma didn’t know it at the time, but back then I didn’t believe in God. I went to Mass and confession and attended eight years of parochial school, but I had no real conviction that God was anything more than a mass delusion, wishful thinking.

But Ma had enough conviction for both of us, with plenty to spare. When I went off to college, she gifted me a subscription to Guideposts magazine, which she has faithfully renewed every year since. And prayers! I joke about how many rosaries she’s ground into fine powder, praying for me and my kids.

If you’ve looked around this website or read much of my writing, you know that God finally got my attention. Now I write for him. Ma is my biggest fan, cheering each accomplishment and commiserating with my struggles. You could say that’s her part of my ministry—a very important part. And yes, the beads are still clicking on my behalf!

Thanks, Ma. And Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,
Linda

Elizabeth Bristol ~ Confidence in the Prophecy

My Kindle music book, SONGS FOR THE LORD, will be offered as a FREE download on Amazon.com and its European affiliates on Friday, November 2 through Monday, November 5. Mark your calendars! And please help me get the word out!

Photo of Elizabeth Bristol

Elizabeth Bristol

Here is a related message—a testimonial of sorts—sent in by kindred spirit Elizabeth Bristol.

A native of Foxboro, Massachusetts, Elizabeth has lived in many states and other countries. She says she loves the school of life and looks for opportunities to step into another pair of shoes for deeper understanding. She can be conventional, but she’d rather color outside the lines.

(I happen to know that Elizabeth has applied to work in Antarctica. That’s coloring outside the lines, all right!)

Elizabeth writes:

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To the Ends of the Earth

Photo of a mailbox on a country road
How does the Lord deliver his words of comfort and challenge to the people who need to hear them?

Oh, he has his ways!

In my last post, I described how I wrote a collection of hymns and faith songs and filed them away while the Lord assigned me other kinds of writing.

But that wasn’t the end of the music story …

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Writing Songs for the Lord

Yearning for the Gift of Music

Photo of a monarch butterfly on pink weed blossoms

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

How does a person who can barely tell a quarter note from a Quarter Pounder write a book full of original hymns and faith songs?

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Following the Lord’s Path

 

Photo of a yellow sign post with an arrow pointing down a trail in the woods
“This is the road! Now follow it.” – Isaiah 30:21 (CEV)

 

The Lord is kind, and as soon as he hears your cries for help, he will come. You will again see the Lord, your teacher, and he will guide you. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying,“This is the road! Now follow it.”

From Isaiah 30:19—21 (CEV)

You have no idea how fitting this verse is for the very first post of my brand new blog!

Yes, even in such a mundane matter as setting up an author website, the Lord heard my cries for help and graciously drew me back to the right path—the path he had chosen for me.

Advice from the Experts

If you’re a writer yourself, you’ve heard the sage counsel: If you want readers (or editors or agents or publishers) to discover your writing, you must have a serious website! Probably the gurus of every profession, interest group, and cause are hammering the same message. It makes sense. Nowadays the Internet is where everyone looks for all kinds of information and products. And I want people looking for the kind of material I write (hymns and faith songs, Christian dramas and skits, poetry, devotionals, puppet ministry how-tos, even mystery fiction) to find my work, don’t I?

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