Songs for the Lord~Free Days

Cover of Songs for the Lord by Linda Bonney Olin

My first-born book, Songs for the Lord, is free on Amazon, starting today through Saturday, December 5, 2015. It contains “sheet music” and companion Bible verses for twenty-four original hymns and faith songs. Although you are buying a Kindle book, it also contains instructions for downloading a PDF file to print the sheet music on ordinary paper.

The songs cover a wide variety of styles, from traditional hymns to musical prayers to hand-clapping bluegrass gospel, even a humorous piece or two. You might not like them all, but I hope you’ll find one or two songs, at least, that you enjoy. Regardless of the music, every song and its companion Bible verses make fresh devotional reading.

SATB parts and/or accompaniments for the melodies in Songs for the Lord are still under construction. I’ve also rewritten a few of those songs, setting them to music written by other people. Buyers of the book are welcome to contact me to see if I have an accompaniment or new musical setting for your favorite song.

Since publishing Songs for the Lord, my Holy Ghostwriter and I have moved to different kinds of writing. I still love to write faith songs, but now I almost always create new lyrics for existing music instead of original melodies. You can see some of my new titles, and hear the tunes I selected for them, on the Faith Songs Audio page.

If you’re a new friend here at Faith Songs, you might enjoy the backstory in earlier posts: how a musical know-nothing (me!) came to write songs in the first place (“Writing Songs for the Lord“), how and why I published my first twenty-four songs as a Kindle book (“To the Ends of the Earth”), and a few things I’ve learned about the Lord along the way (“Confidence in the Prophecy”).

If you’d like to try your hand at writing new hymn texts for existing tunes, check out my related posts in the Writing Craft category.

But first, go snag your copy of Songs for the Lord, FREE through December 5!

Merry Christmas!
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.

Continue reading

Worship in the City

Jesus Walks on City Streets by Linda Bonney OlinFaith Songs for People Where They Are

Shepherds and lambs … lakes and rivers … bountiful harvests of golden wheat … crowded sidewalks and grungy alleys—Wait a minute! When was the last time you sang about those in church?

Probably never. Yet city pavements, not rural pastures, are the everyday surroundings of millions of Christians.

Rev. Dr. Nancy E. Hardy, a retired minister and a city resident herself, saw that the urban viewpoint was severely underrepresented in existing hymnals. Supported by the 2013 McGeachy Senior Scholarship, Nancy launched a quest to fill that void. She wrote prayers and selected songs whose themes and imagery resonate with city dwellers.

The resulting book, Worship in the City: Prayers and Songs for Urban Settings, was just released by United Church Publishing House. Although this hymnal was published for the United Church of Canada, urban congregations of any denomination will find it a rich resource for public and private worship.

You can check out the paperback edition at United Church Resource Distribution or the ebook edition at Amazon and other online retailers.

A Faith Songs Milestone

I’m celebrating Worship in the City for a personal reason, too. It’s the first appearance of my work in a church hymnal. What an exciting milestone! One more evidence that the Lord keeps his promises.

Worship in the CityNew hymnals aren’t produced every five minutes like novels, anthologies, or magazines, so opportunities to submit new hymn texts for publication in a hymnal are few and far between. When Nancy Hardy’s project was mentioned last year in The Verse (the newsletter of the Hymn Society in the United States & Canada), submitting a text for her consideration went right onto my to-do list.

Unfortunately, not one of the dozens of hymn texts I’d already written featured an urban theme. I challenged myself to create one. Although I’m a country gal, my visits to metropolitan areas from Houston to Boston, including Toronto, Philly, and of course the Big Apple, furnished memories to work from. “Jesus Walks on City Streets” became a four-verse meditation on living as a member of the community of faith in a city environment. Louis J. Herold’s tune MESSIAH (familiar as the tune of “Take My Life, and Let It Be”) provided the musical setting, with a few timing tweaks to make my lyrics more singable. To my delight, “Jesus Walks on City Streets” was placed in the Hope and Healing section of Worship in the City.

I love being inspired to write a new hymn to meet a particular need. Can you suggest a hymn or faith song that begs to be written? Please share your ideas in a comment below. Or just stop and say hi. I love that too!

~ Linda

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: James the Brother of Jesus

White cross on dark blue backgroundJames “the Lord’s brother” was missing from the scene of the cross while Jesus suffered and died. Wouldn’t you expect such a close family member to be there, supporting Jesus and Mary in those desperate hours? But then, this particular James had been absent from Jesus’ ministry all along.

In my musical dramatic comedy “James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed,” James appears on a fictional (obviously!) Christian television show to share his personal story of faith in Jesus Christ. But he’s barely settled into a chair on stage when his identity as the brother of Jesus throws the other two guests into a rambunctious argument. Was Mary a virgin all her life? In that case, one guest insists, James must be Joseph’s son from a previous marriage, or a cousin of Jesus, or even a random believer. Or are James and the other brothers and sisters mentioned in the Bible literally Jesus’ younger siblings born of Mary and Joseph, as the other guest argues?

No matter where you stand on this real-life controversy, you can appreciate the obstacles a “brother” of Jesus would have experienced on the road to faith.

JAMES:  I had no part in Jesus’ ministry at all, for the simple reason that I didn’t believe he was the Messiah, or the Son of God, or a prophet, or any of that. None of his brothers believed in him.

INTERVIEWER:  I don’t understand. You said you and Jesus were very close.

JAMES:  That was the problem. I knew who Jesus was and where he came from, and it wasn’t heaven. He was a regular kid like the rest of us.

GUEST #1:  Come on! How “regular” could the Son of God be? 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