Building Relationships in the Crazy COVID Crisis

by Susan G Mathis

Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship; it will affect every aspect of your relationships. Good personal communication is the act of revealing yourself—your past experiences, present feelings, and future dreams. It’s sharing your fears, needs, and desires carefully and honestly. Communicating well is also about setting boundaries, confronting problems, admitting when you’re wrong, rejecting fearmongering and negativity, and extending grace to each other.
But in this crazy COVID season, it feels so isolating, so anti-relationship, and so self-withdrawing. In short, it’s scary. It’s confusing. It’s lonely. It makes us want to hide from others.
And it’s unhealthy.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they broke the communication they had with their Creator and caused isolation from Him. They covered up and hid. They withdrew, isolated, and lost relationship.
God never intended that. He knew that a life of withdrawing and hiding would be painful and counterproductive. That’s why God delights in His people fighting back fears of connection, overcoming negative communication patterns, and learning to communicate in healthy and loving ways. And I dare say, He still wants that for us, even during this COVID season.
Connecting, communicating, and not isolating might look a little different during this time. You may have to be proactive in connecting with others through Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, social media, or the phone. You may have to fight the isolation and the fear that comes with this COVID season. And you may have to proactively reveal yourself by communicating your fears, frustrations, concerns—and your faith.
In my latest novella, Reagan’s Reward, Reagan struggled to build healthy relationships and communicate with those different from her. She tried to isolate and fear overtook her. And she plunged into a dark place.
God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. God wants us to encourage others. God wants us to be authentic and hopeful.
This will pass, and everything does. But God’s truths never change. Communicate that, and we’ll all be encouraged. And healthier for it.

Susan G. Mathis

Susan G. Mathis

Susan G Mathis is vice president of CAN and an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including the Illumination Book Award, the American Fiction Award and the Indie Excellence Book Award. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

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You Never Know Who’s Listening

by Susan G Mathis

In August, I had the blessing of being part of the book talk and signing at the Cornwall Brothers Museum in the Thousand Islands, NY. With COVID, I wasn’t sure if anyone would come, but I was shocked that fifty people filled the room and many more were turned away because of the number restrictions in place. I sold sixty books that day.

While that was great, I was surprised by grace not once but three times! Three women asked me to sign their books, and while they did, each one of them confessed that my stories brought them closer to Christ. One had been far from the Lord for decades; two others were unbelievers, but because I write about the Thousand Islands that they love, they read my novels and came to Christ!

My novels are fictional stories of broken people who found healing and hope, but they don’t overtly share the Gospel message or give an altar call. Somehow, they touched hearts and drew them to the One I write for.

Yet I guess that’s the way with many things we do. We care. We’re kind. We give. We love. We share God’s love and people are touched, changed, and sometimes redeemed by what we say or do. I imagine a little bit of heaven will include the unfolding of those moments where we have touched a life for eternity, whether it’s through a word, a deed, or through our writing. And won’t that be fun?

Reagans Reward Book Cover

Reagan’s Reward

In my sixth Gilded Age story, Reagan’s Reward, it’s 1912. Reagan Kennedy assumes the position of governess to the

Bernheim family’s twin nephews, and her life at Cherry Island’s Casa Blanca

becomes frustratingly complicated. Service to a Jewish family when she is a Gentile and tending to eight-year-old, mischievous boys yields challenges galore.

Daniel Lovitz serves as the island’s caretaker and boatman. He tries to help the alluring Reagan make sense of her new world, but she calls into question his own faith background and forces him to face the hurts of his past. Then there’s the jealous lady’s maid who seems intent on wedging herself between them. Can he and Reagan ever find common ground on such a small island?

Reagan’s winsome spirit and faith-filled life touches not only the Bernheims but also Daniel. Her journey reminds us that following Christ can make an eternal difference in the lives of others.

Susan G. Mathis

Susan G. Mathis

Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including the Illumination Book Award, the American Fiction Award, and the Indie Excellence Book Award

Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.
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Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

As I studied the questions God asks in the Bible in preparation to write God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature (co-authored with my husband, Larry), I came across a fascinating reference to the “vine of Sodom” (Deuteronomy 32:32) God gives as an example of how His people have sinned and why they deserve justice and judgment.

“For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
their clusters are bitter.” (ESV)

Some commentators have varying ideas about the “vine of Sodom” which the Bible refers to only this once. Over the years, many have tried to identify the exact plant God refers to. The most obvious are grapes. Yet researchers have wondered if there is any other kind of what some commentators translate as “apples of Sodom.”

The osher fruit might be a candidate, appearing like a delicious, smooth, soft, yellow apple or orange. But when grabbed or bitten, the fruit disintegrates into a puff of air, a thin rind, and a few fibers. What seemed so fulfilling offers nothing of value.

That’s God’s point. His people are depending upon empty, ineffective, worthless things which become idols. Idol worship deserves judgment because the Israelites are putting their hope into a “puff of air.” The hollow “vine cluster” seems to give a tiny spiritual taste of satisfaction but doesn’t last. God wants His created beings to see Himself as the satisfying God of the universe who only gives good gifts, not disappointing puffs of air.

Kathy Collard Miller is passionate about communicating the hope God offers by revealing His perfect nature throughout the Bible. Kathy is the author of more than 55 books and has spoken in more than 35 US states and 9 foreign countries. www.KathyCollardMiller.com

 

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What we live is first what we think.  So what does God want us to think about that will elevate our mind, soul, spirit and life?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil 4:8)

In Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we dig a little deeper to see what each word means…

Noble: Honorable, reverent, dignified, gravitas

Discovering Joy in Philippians

Discovering Joy In Philippians

Right: Correct, just in the eyes of God, judicially approved

Pure: Holy, sacred, chaste, prepared for worship

Lovely: Pleasing, agreeable, worthy of affection

Admirable: Good reputation, well report

Excellent: Moral goodness, virtue, upright

Praiseworthy: Commendation, approved, recognized, fitting acknowledgment

What needs to change in your thinking? How can you weave good thinking habits and patterns into your life daily?

 

 

Author Pam Farrel sharing her book, Discovering Joy in Philippians

Author Pam Farrel sharing her book, Discovering Joy in Philippians

Pam Farrel is the author of 50+ books including co-authoring Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience. www.Love-Wise.com

 

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I was going through a difficult time,and was replaying the hurt, pain, and offense over and over.

And God has the ability to get our attention  when we get stuck in life–especially when it is not a healthy place we are stuck in!  In my daily devotions I read Phil 3: 13:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…

Then later that day, after I had recounted the depressive situation once again, a dear friend said to me:

“Life is too short to live looking in the rear view mirror.”

Is anything in your past standing in the way of your future?

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 50+ books, including Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience and 10 Secrets of Living Smart, Savvy and Strong and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together. — which contains this story and more to help women become unstuck and move forward in life. www.Love-Wise.com

 

 

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