The Psalms speaking today
By Tom Larson
When Linda Winter-Hodgson was feeling the spiritual need to reenergize, she followed the advice of friend and pastor Neil Thielke: "Quiet times," Hodgson said.
Quiet times are regularly scheduled moments for meditation. Hodgson, who has long delighted at every opportunity to read scripture, chose to focus on the Psalms and the positive life stories in them during her quiet times.
"For a year, I would meditate on one Psalm a day," Hodgson said, "and I decided to write a book about those reflections."
Hodgson's second book, "Words of Life," is a devotional that is subtitled "Hearing God's Voice Today in the Psalms." The book was published earlier this year by Advantage Books.
Hodgson took 150 Psalms and used them as a basis for her thoughts and stories from her personal life.
"Our lives are like the Psalms," Hodgson said. "They run the gamut of emotions and situations, but yet you seem to find good news in them."
Hodgson knit together a wide-ranging collection of spiritual prose, hymns and poems that branch out from her interpretation of her favorite Psalms. In fact, the book's title was taken from a hymn Hodgson calls her favorite, "Wonderful Words of Life."
The quiet times made the project a labor of love, not a labor.
"They helped me a lot," Hodgson said. "Quiet times became a life-line for me. My days go better when I have time for quiet reflection."
The humanity found in the Psalms made them a natural source for inspiration for Hodgson's vision for "Words of Life."
"A lot of Biblical characters seemed to mess up a lot and God still used them," Hodgson said. "That's encouraging."
As she did with her first book, "A Cup of Kindness," Hodgson enlisted the talents of Judy (Langemo) Roth for the watercolor painting - which was inspired by a Scott Gibson photograph -- for the cover of "Words of Life." Dean Danter shot Hodgson's photograph for the back cover, and Pat Theriault designed the book cover.
The writing took a year. Hodgson self-published her first book, so going through the publishing process this time was taxing - after the distress of rejection, she posted samples of the book on a Web site, which was discovered by Advantage Books.
"It's been a learning experience," she said.
The book is available at Thrifty White Drug, the Common Cup, John's Total Entertainment and the University of Minnesota, Morris bookstore. Online, the book can be found on the Amazon, Advantage Books, Barnes & Noble and Borders Web sites.
The new book - and the quiet times - have motivated Hodgson to plan for more. She's thinking about writing about her three-legged cat, Starfish, who has passed on.
"(Starfish) was such an inspiration to me," she said.
There's another devotional in Hodgson's future. The tentatively titled "This I Know" was inspired by the song "Jesus Loves Me."
And Hodgson will tap the same vein she found to fill "Words of Life."
"There is enough discouragement in the world," she said. "Whether it's what you hear from people on the street or in the media. I want to write something that's uplifting."