Words matter. Proverbs 15:4 says that words can heal, but they can also break a person’s spirit. Who hasn’t experienced both of these? I sure have! And in my latest novel, Katelyn’s Choice, my protagonist, Katelyn, does too.

Thankfully, Katelyn has some faithful mentors who speak into her life and nudge her to change. Do you? Do you have those who are free to challenge your words, encourage you to speak truth and life, and nudge you to change when you need to? If you don’t, I’d like to encourage you to find that friend who is closer than a brother, one who can help you to tame your tongue and bring God glory through your words.

So many of us struggle with gossip, frivolous chatter, and unwholesome talk, especially with the world of social media screaming at us. James 3:5 says that the tongue is just “a small part of the body but it makes great boasts.” Then he compares it to a spark that creates a forest fire. Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has “the power of life and death.”

With this in mind, my novel, Katelyn’s Choice, explores this principle. Here’s a little about the story:

Katelyn Kavanagh’s mother dreamed her daughter would one day escape the oppressive environment of their Upstate New York farm for service in the enchanting Thousand Islands, home to Gilded Age millionaires. But when her wish comes true, Katelyn finds herself in the service of none other than the famous George Pullman, and the transition proves anything but easy.

Thomas O’Neill, brother of her best friend, is all grown up and also working on Pullman Island. Despite Thomas’ efforts to help the irresistible Katelyn adjust to the intricacies of her new world, she just can’t seem to tame her gossiping tongue—even when the information she’s privy to could endanger her job, the 1872 re-election of Pullman guest President Ulysses S. Grant, and the love of the man of her dreams.

And boy, did Katelyn get herself into some terrible predicaments because of her prattling tongue.

In and of ourselves, we are utterly unable to tame our tongue.

Only the Lord can help us, but will Katelyn—will you—turn to Him for help? I know I need to regularly, and I suspect I’m not alone.

Susan G Mathis

Susan G Mathis

Katelyn's Choice

Katelyn’s Choice

Susan G Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in Upstate New York. Katelyn’s Choice,The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, and Christmas Charity will transport you to a time and place few have visited. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes time with her four adorable granddaughters. Find out more at www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”—Sir Winston Churchill

Thousand Islands

Thousands Islands

History still matters today, and with all the revisionist history going around our world—in the media, popular culture, and even in our educational system—we need to be wise. As Churchill wisely warned us, we need to learn from history so we don’t repeat the failures of the past. The historical parts of the Bible are important for that reason. So is our own history.

We can learn so much from the people who lived before us. They shaped and were shaped by the events of their time, and so are we. We can find inspiration from people of the past, but we can also understand the world today if we take the time to connect the dots.

Unfortunately, the subject of history often becomes a list of dates and names so many have turned their backs on it. And that’s where historical fiction fills a void we desperately need filled today.

Historical fiction allows us to explore and experience history in a tangible way. We can catch glimpses of the past through the people who lived it. We can explore the human condition through the story and see history rather than just hear about it. That’s why dramas like Downton Abbey are so popular.

I love learning while being entertained with drama, whether in a novel, TV show, or movie. Moreover, studies prove that when we’re interested in something, like what will happen to our heroine in the novel we read, we’ll remember the historical details that surround it. Readers get to not only enjoy the character’s story but also learn from history, and that’s a win-win.

So whether you read about the kings of Israel, the days of Esther, or the Thousand Islands Gilded Age, never stop learning about history and applying it to your world. If we all did, we’d make a much better world for ourselves and for those who will come.

Katelyn's Choice

Katelyn’s Choice

Susan G. Mathis

Susan G. Mathis

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in Upstate New York. Katelyn’s Choice,The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, and Christmas Charity will transport you to a time and place few have visited. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes time with her four adorable granddaughters. Find out more at www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

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Excerpt from Christmas Charity by Susan G Mathis

“I heard you were newlyweds from Canada. From Wolfe Island? It’s a mighty lot to adjust to, that’s for sure. But how’s you doing, dearie?”

Susan bit her lip and studied Mabel. Could she trust her, this stranger? Susan needed to talk with someone, especially since her mama wasn’t here. “It’s … all so sudden. Patrick is a good and kind man, but …” She looked toward the door and sighed. “I’m sure I’ll adjust … with time.”

Mabel took Susan’s hand in her tiny, wrinkled ones. “Change ain’t easy, I’ll give you that. But you can nudge it in the right direction. Charity is what you need, dearie. God’s love for that spitfire of a girl. I ’spect she be hurtin’ a mighty bit with all the goin’s on. She’s a child sneaking her way to womanhood I ’spect. You be a woman who must guide her along the path with a strong dose of charity.”

“That’s what my mama said. Not quite in those words.” Susan smiled and swiped a tear that had leaked out.

“We old folk knows such things. We’ve tried and failed many a time afore learnin’ the way. You’ll learn to, in time. But I feel in my bones that charity is the tool you need to use to crack that hard shell your girlie has formed around herself. What happened to her mother?”

“Died of pneumonia when Lizzy was seven, short of four years ago. Patrick and her had several stillborns and miscarriages before Lizzy came along, so Patrick …” Her words trailed off.

Mabel finished her thought. “Spoils her.” She grinned as Susan shrugged. “I could see it in her eyes the minute she cast her icy glare at ya.” Mabel chuckled. “She be a stubborn one?”

Susan sucked in a breath and nodded. “She hates me.”

“Naw. She fears you.”

Susan’s brow furrowed and she shook her head. “She doesn’t fear anything. I, on the otherhand, fear her.”

Mabel patted her hand. “Now you just stop that right now. You’s the grownup and mustn’t fear her. She’s but a child and needs you, dearie.”

Susan countered with a furious shake of her head. “She needs her father, not me. She despises me, and my marriage to him.”

“She’s just protecting herself, afeared to let you in, afeared you’ll take her daddy, afeared that she’d be betraying her mama, afeared that if she lets you in and loves you that you’ll die like her mama. It’s just the way them babes think.” Mabel touched Susan’s cheek and tenderly gazed into her eyes stinging with tears. “Now, be puttin’ away those tears and straighten that spine and fill that heart of yours with a boatload of charity for that prickly little thing. And do not fear! God will give you victory, dearie.” Mabel grabbed a towel that was lying on the table and wiped away her tears. Like her mama would have done.

Susan G Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network. She’s a multi-published author of stories set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. Her newest novella, Christmas Charity, her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will take you to a time and place few have gone. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of published articles. Visit her at www.SusanGMathis.com.

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Excerpt from Christmas Charity by Susan G. Mathis:

Mabel opened the door and noticed the darkening sky. “Come in, Susan. Looks like a Nor’easters a building. Might have snow by nightfall.”

Susan entered the elderly woman’s abode. Neat and tidy with lots of memorabilia, just as Susan had imagined. Mabel led her into the kitchen. “I was just making tea. Care for some?”

“Yes, please. How are you, Mabel?”

“I’m just fine. Been praying for you and that girl of yours a fair bit. How’s it going?” Mabel stopped pouring the tea and stared into Susan’s eyes. “Tell me truthful-like, ya hear?” She tilted her head to accentuate her command.

Susan dropped her eyes to the oilcloth-covered table. “Not good. She won’t let me in. Patrick says to give her time, but…”

Mabel sat down next to her and rubbed her braid like her mama always did. Susan turned to make sure she wasn’t dreaming that Mabel was her mama just then.

“But what? Her father let’s her get away with too much? She has free rein to be prickly?” Mabel grunted. “My brother did the same thing when his wife died, and now my niece is unbearable. I know the signs.”

Susan nodded. “So what do I do? I love Patrick. He’s a kind man but he’s too kind sometimes.”

“Pray, dear girl, and pour on the charity.” Mabel sipped her tea before continuing. “Thomas Aquinas said that only God gives us power to show charitable love to another. He says that it’s the most perfect way to love. It’s love that’s given by choice, by your will, not expecting anything in return. True charity not only touches the heart of another but once you pour it out, joy and peace will also fill you up.”

“But…if I can’t even talk to her or touch her or interact with her in any way, how can I show her charity? I don’t understand.”

Mabel gazed at the wall for several moments before answering. “God has to show you the specifics, dearie. The love chapter in Corinthians gives us some ideas. Part of it is having faith and hope that God will give you the answer. It has nothing to do with her accepting you or even liking you. You can talk to her all you want, but if you don’t show her charity, it’ll sound like a noisy, irritating gong. You have to choose to pour on the charity expecting nothing in return.”

Susan felt her brow furrow. She bit her lip until it hurt, trying to understand Mabel’s words. Mabel patiently sipped her tea and let the sounds of silence fill the room. Susan heard the wind howl and the clock tick, until the quiet comforted her. But she still had questions.

“So, it has nothing to do with her? I have to choose it, no matter what she says or does?”

Mabel smiled, patting Susan’s hand. “Exactly. But you can’t do it in your own strength. You have to let God fill you with charity and then you pour it out. Like this pitcher.” Mabel took the little, white creamer and demonstrated as she poured a little cream into her tea. “Just like that. You don’t make the cream. You just pour it out. You’re a vessel, girl.”

Susan G. Mathis is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. She’s a multi-published author of stories set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. Her newest novella, Christmas Charity, her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will take you to a time and place few have gone. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of articles. Visit her at www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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 In our living room is a symbol my husband, Dale, and I used in our wedding. It’s a three-fold cord of red, white, and gold. It symbolizes that the commitment we made to marriage wasn’t just between the two of us. The covenant is between three of us, with God at the center. Scripture says “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). That’s how we want our commitment to be, and that takes making daily choices to keep our commitment strong.

Of all the major decisions in life, making a commitment to marry is one of the most important and for some, the hardest. Hopefully, this decision is far more important than buying your first car or house or deciding where you’ll go on vacation.

A commitment to marry is more than just signing a contract. Marriage is a sacred covenant, a plan God created for our benefit. In the Bible, God made covenants with His people, but others made covenants, too—like Jonathan to David and Ruth to Naomi. They were committing to love, serve, and care for each other. Covenant promises are unconditional—there is no escape clause or money-back guarantee. It’s made on the foundation of faith and love—and it’s permanent.

Permanent is a word seldom used today. In our culture, everything seems disposable—even relationships. Commitment wavers when it’s based on what makes us feel good or is convenient for us personally. God’s plan is so much bigger. Just as He has never left us or forsaken us, even in our worst sinful state, so He wants us to know and enjoy the permanence of an intimate relationship with our mate.

We all know couples, maybe even our own parents, who divorced. Maybe they grew tired of each other or one of them “found someone new.” Whatever the reason, they broke the commitment they made, and the painful consequences of their choice affected many others.

That’s not God’s plan for any of us.

We also know couples, married for decades, who are happy, despite the challenges they’ve faced. Our friends just celebrated fifty-five years together! Bob and Gayle love each other dearly. They are the closest of companions and deeply committed to each other. Dale says, “When we grow up, let’s be just like them!” Couples like them give us hope for our marriage. As you journey through your marriage, find one or two couples who model what marriage should look like, especially if healthy marriages have been rare in your life.

Who are your role models for marriage? Tell them what a blessing they are to you. I’d love to hear about how they made a difference in your marriage.

Adapted from Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2013, all rights reserved.

wedding candlesSusan G Mathis in blackSusan Mathis is the author of The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

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