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

 

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

 

Pick ’Em Up and Move ’Em

Pick your feet up and move!

How often has someone at a writers conference said she hasn’t started actually writing anything yet, because she isn’t sure exactly what the Lord wants her to write?

Are you standing paralyzed on the brink of a career choice, afraid to take a step until you’re absolutely, positively sure what God has in mind for you?

Hmm… Maybe while you’re waiting on God, God is waiting on YOU.

Yes, pray for guidance. But don’t stop there. Pick up your feet, or your pen, or whatever tool of your trade you need, and move it! You might be surprised at the direction the Lord takes you in, once you show your commitment with a bit of action.

I’m adding my prayers to yours, right now. 🙂

Blessings,
Linda

 

Yes! Today!

Yes, today!

Are you wasting time and energy mourning capabilities and opportunities you’ve lost?

Still moping about all the great things you could have accomplished, “if only …”?

Today, list and celebrate the gifts the Lord is giving you NOW. Start using them to create something that will be great, if only you’ll get busy and do it!

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

Blessings,
Linda

 

New Year, New Ideas

Start hatching a new project

A reminder for my fine-feathered friends who need a little motivation to turn their writing-for-publication dreams into reality:

  • If you never start writing the first draft, you’ll never finish the manuscript.
  • If you never finish it, you’ll never submit it.
  • If you never submit it, you’ll never publish it.
  • If you never publish it, no one will ever read it.
  • If no one ever reads it … you, and your could-have-been readers, and the Lord who gave you the dream, will all miss out.

Same goes for all the other kinds of projects you’re still sitting on, writing-related and otherwise.

So don’t just sit there. Start hatching!

What are my new ideas?

  • Compile and publish a book of my hymn lyrics set to existing hymn tunes. I’ve got about 75 new ones, ready to get kicked out of the nest.
  • Develop a book and video tutorial to help other poets try their hands at writing hymn texts and setting their verse to music.
  • Finish my Christmas Eve cantata. That project’s been incubating for over ten years!
  • Last, but not least, do whatever my Holy GhostWriter scribbles on my to-do list.

What new projects are you hatching for the new year? Please share in a comment!

Blessings,
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

 

 

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.

Continue reading

Is Lent “Biblical”?

I’m dismayed by the notion that the season of Lent is “unbiblical,” “pagan,” and an all-around work of the devil. Everyone is entitled to his own understanding, of course. But …

I’ve seen online rants condemning Lent as a pagan practice because the date of Easter (hence Lent, which falls on the 40 days prior to Easter) is determined by the spring solstice. Some folks condemn Lent out of hand because they (incorrectly, says this Methodist) view it as a “Catholic thing” and they are against all things Catholic. Others blame Lent for the ugly excesses of Mardi Gras, which makes as much sense to me as condemning Christian observance of Christmas because people get drunk and misbehave at Christmas parties.

A person of sincere Christian faith once informed me that Lent is unbiblical because it is not named or observed in the Bible. Yet I believe his church acknowledges the legitimacy of Christmas and Easter, which also are not named or observed in the Bible. Of course, Christ’s birth and resurrection are recorded in scripture. But the annual observances of those important events, which we call Christmas and Easter, are not. Yet who wouldn’t agree that Christmas and Easter are wonderful and spiritually uplifting occasions? Never mind whatever historical connection to paganism there might be in practices like Christmas trees and Easter eggs—the fundamental nature of the occasion is biblical and Christ-honoring.

Matthew 4:1-11The same is true of the annual observance which many churches call Lent. This wonderful, spiritually uplifting season commemorates the 40-day period of fasting and prayer that Jesus Christ undertook in preparation for his journey to the cross. Like his birth and resurrection, this is an important biblical event, recorded in Matthew 4:1–11. Like Christmas and Easter, Lent should not be discredited as unbiblical because the annual commemoration began after the Bible was written, nor should it be attacked because some of the practices associated with it had pagan origins or are sometimes conducted in ways that do not honor the Lord God.

Honoring the Lord God, in my opinion, is what truly counts here. I urge Christians of all denominations and traditions to simply take time during the coming weeks to prayerfully prepare for the journey to the cross. Reflect upon the sacrifice the Lord Jesus Christ made there for the glory of God and your salvation. In response, consider what sacrifice you might make to bring glory to God the Father and do good for your neighbor.

To help you do that, I hope you’ll read Giving It Up for Lent, no matter what your faith tradition. If you want to explore the concept of Lenten sacrifice for the first time, check it out. If you’ve already been observing Lent and you want to breathe new life into stale or shallow Lenten practices, check it out. It includes lots of Bible references for the tradition of worshipful sacrifice. You can find information on my book page.

You can receive a free PDF copy of Giving It Up for Lent (or one of my other books if you prefer) just for the asking from now until Monday, February 9, 2015. I made that offer to the folks who are reading Dr. Terry Dorsett’s interview of yours truly, on Next Generation Evangelistic Network’s blog. Hop on over there to read the interview and hop back here to request your free book.

For another explanation of Lent, see BibleGateway’s blog post. BibleGateway.com is a wonderful resource for scripture study.

As always, I invite you to post comments and questions below.

—Linda

Al Zimmer Comes to Call

Years ago, when a television news show discussed Alzheimer’s disease, my mother misheard the name as “Al Zimmer’s disease.” It became a running gag in our family to refer to a spell of forgetfulness as a visit from Al Zimmer. The joke lost its humor six years ago. That was when we learned that Al Zimmer had come to call on my father and had taken up permanent residence.

When the doctor informed Dad that he had Alzheimer’s disease, Al Zimmer translated this to Dad as, “We want you to take extra pills to make you smarter.” There was no point in trying to correct him. When Al Zimmer holds his hands over Dad’s ears, the facts have little chance of filtering through his fingers. When Al Zimmer plants a lopsided idea in Dad’s head, you can’t pry it out with the proverbial crowbar.

From time to time, though, my father’s big heart evicts the uninvited guest—at least temporarily. One such occasion was my niece Angie’s wedding, the year after Dad’s diagnosis. Continue reading

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