I’ve Got Something to Say is a collection of songs containing many powerful messages. While we’ve all struggled to survive the war both physically and mentally, Bonnie wrote a love song to our troops titled, “Red, White and Blue.” Months after the 2004 tsunami disaster in Asia, she tried to explore the meaning of “Grace” in everyday life. Watching her son raise his children inspired Bonnie to write “Family Matters.” In “Turn the Quiet Up,” Bonnie writes from her heart about the need to slow down and reconnect with those we love. When she lost her husband to a sudden heart attack, Bonnie wrote “New Beginning” to honor him and describe her experience with organ and tissue donation. As a young woman coping with the death of her father, Bonnie didn’t know how she would survive without her childhood hero’s wise guidance. Then, the chorus for “Borrowed Wings” came to her and verses flowed from her good friend and co-writer Janice Bartlett to produce a powerful song.
I’ve Got Something to Say
Stories Behind The Songs
“New Beginning”, was born out of the pain of losing my husband Brent to a heart attack at age 40.
When I was told Brent had died suddenly and without warning at work at Prudhoe Bay, one of my first thoughts was that I was not going to give him up to death without taking back every beautiful piece of him first. He was strong and beautiful and someone else deserved to be able to benefit from this body that he was now leaving behind.
The staff at Life Alaska – the organ and tissue procurement center in Alaska, was amazing. I had many conversations with their family relations coordinator, who upon discovering that I was a singer/songwriter asked me if I would consider singing at their annual memorial service. I said I wanted to sing at the service but thought I would try to write something. I hung up the phone and then said to myself, “what in the heck do you think you’re going to write that will be tasteful about organ and tissue donation”?
By the time we had the funeral, a man in California had received his corneas. Later, I was able to talk to the 45 year old man who had received his heart valve, and finally I received a letter from the donor center about a six month old baby who had received an artery from Brent in a life-saving procedure.
It took me a year to understand the significance of what I had done but I was then able to write the song and share what it means to offer your life up to a person that you have never met. He has shown me there is a new beginning in the end.
“Grace”, is dedicated to my late friend Dr. Timothy Powers, who after relapsing from lymphoma for the third time, told me that the most meaningful word in the English language for him was the word Grace.
After his death, I decided to explore what Grace looks like in our everyday lives and found real life examples that signified something extraordinary is going on, if we just stop and look around us.
My friend Ellen came to mind as the best example of Grace I could think of on a personal level. She was diagnosed with cancer more than 30 years ago and was told by her doctor that there was nothing more he could do for her, yet she has found her way through this disease process and remains an inspiration to many.
I wanted to have a world example and couldn’t think of a better one than the infant who was found floating on a mattress after the 2004 tsunami disaster.
I remembered getting chills watching the news as reporters told the story of Ashley Smith escaping in Atlanta from a man who had just murdered several people and had nothing to lose by killing her, but was influenced by hearing her speak about the Bible and its promises.
It is my hope that this song will show the amazing power that is available to help all of us in times of need.
"Red, White and Blue"
It was a Sunday much like any other spring day in May of 2004. The sanctuary at the Soldotna United Methodist Church was brimming with families and visitors. Earlier, our pastor Dale Kelley told me that she would be creating a special ceremony to pray for one of our service women, Sierra Mello, who was being sent back to the 141st Signal Battalion stationed in Baghdad.
Towards the end of the service, Pastor Kelly announced that Sierra was returning to Baghdad and asked for anyone in the congregation who had fought in previous wars to come forward and pray for Sierra’s safety. The pastor thought those soldiers who stood with her, would know better than anyone else what Sierra was about to face and hoped that Sierra would draw strength from their witness and support. Pastor Kelly then invited others in the congregation to come forward, myself included. The entire congregation stood with raised hands as she offered a “blessing prayer of sending”.
The scene is still very much alive in my mind. There before me stood a brave soldier, so young and innocent and surrounded by the strong arms and love of scores of others who had defended our country. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church following this prayer of sending and looking at Sierra’s mother, Debbie Griffin, I could only imagine how I would have felt if that had been my daughter going off to war.
This incident combined with my neighbor Jennifer’s yard sign that called out, “Support Our Troops,” made me reflect on the kind of support I was giving. It wasn’t long after that I came to work one morning and told my assistant, “I can’t believe this but I’m writing a patriotic song,” and I sang the chorus, “Honey I’m Red, White and Blue, over you”. She said, it sounds great, finish it.
Looking back at it now, I know it was a combination of these moments that gave birth to the song, “ Red, White and Blue”. I believe it’s an important message of love and hope in support of all of our military families.
Sierra did return home safely to her family and continues to work in support of her country.