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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Miss Tavistock's Mistake

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake by Linore Rose Burkhard

Are you a cheerleader or a nitpicker?

by Linore Rose Burkhard

Every author I know, myself included, wants to make readers happy, especially the cheerleaders who love our genre and stories. After all, by loving and reading our books, they keep us in business. Nevertheless, not all readers agree on what works for them, and some get downright nitpicky.

What’s a writer to do when we are stymied by conflicting feedback? Case in point:  my recent release (Miss Tavistock’s Mistake: Brides of Mayfair, Book One).

Reader 1: “The Jane-esque language in this novel is exquisite.”

Reader 2:  “Kudos to Ms. Burkard! (for) a few words or phrases that were new to me.”

Reader #3: “I have no idea what that word means.”

And what about pacing? We try to build plots that snowball to keep those pages turning. One reader writes, “This latest offering from Burkard explodes onto the page;” another, “Like a runaway horse, the plot picks up speed, hurtling along…” But just when I’m about to relax that I nailed the pacing, another writes, “It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but once I did…”

Wait. It took a few chapters? Aargh.

So what’s a writer to do? Personally, I watch for responses that are repeated. For example, phrases like “pure delight,” “a hero to swoon for,”  “a perfect escape.” If I see such phrases in numerous reviews, then I can be sure I’m hitting the sweet spot for my cheerleaders. I have to accept that, as with most things in life, I can’t please everyone.

But I sure do appreciate the cheerleaders. If you love a book, be sure to review it and let the author know what they’re doing right. You are the ones we write for and who help keep us going!

 

Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, she also writes contemporary suspense and contemporary romance. Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.

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How are you spending this forced stay-cation?

I’ve been baking, cleaning, and catching up on those “will-do-sometime” projects. Thumbing through a stack of magazines that I didn’t have time to read when they arrived over the past few months, I’m ready to discard a bunch and free up space. I appreciate having time to organize. Friends tell me they’re cleaning and organizing, too.

In our normal, busy life, we handle the urgent and leave everything else until a day when our to-do list isn’t so jam-packed. That day has come.

Meetings have been cancelled. Stadiums are empty. Churches are live-streaming services. Gyms have closed. Restaurants are providing only drive-through/takeout service. Life as we are accustomed to living it has come to an abrupt stop.

We’re working from home—with huge gratitude for a comfortable place to wait out this weird attack called coronavirus. We never saw this coming. Multitudes are infected. Thousands are dying. These are desperate times. Fear nips at our heels.

Being cautious is wise. But we needn’t live in panic mode, afraid of what tomorrow might bring. We’ve never had the privilege of knowing the future. That’s why we put our trust in God. We still don’t know the future but we know the One who does.

As we remind ourselves to follow procedures to protect ourselves and our families during the pandemic, we can fight panic and fear by choosing to remember awesome facts that will not change.

  • God knows me by name (Isaiah 43:1).
  • He says I am precious in his sight (Isaiah 43:4).
  • He loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • He delights in me (Psalm 18:19).
  • He has imprinted me on his heart (Psalm 136:23, see Amplified version).
  • He has engraved me on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16).
  • He cares for sparrows and considers me of greater worth than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Friends, be safe from both contagions—coronavirus and fear. Make the following your daily prayer and confidence.

“Ah Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm16:8-9).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Word Weavers International. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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As I was talking with a women’s ministry director at a church training conference, I hoped she would invite me to speak at her women’s retreat. I enjoyed one of the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies set before us while we sat in the lounge of the convention center. When she asked my opinion on some important issues, I spoke with confident tones. I was thrilled to see her staring at my mouth, obviously eager to hear my every word. Surely, I was impressing her. All I have to do is say the right things, I assured myself, as I anxiously tried to think of what those “right things” might be.

After we concluded, I headed for the restroom feeling content with the open door God had given me. I walked through the restroom door and saw my reflection in the mirror. What’s that dark thing on my lip? I went closer and realized chocolate was dripping down my lip and chin. Oh, no, how long has that been there? I realized the mess had decorated my face during most of our conversation. For whatever reason, she had not felt comfortable telling me.

Oh, Lord, what have you done to me? What about my pithy statements and wise admonitions? How foolish I must have looked. How humiliating!

In a flash of truth, I recognized my dissatisfaction with God’s plan. And I started laughing. Oh, Lord, you do have a sense of humor. Please forgive me for my pride and self-importance. I fell into that trap again. But I also acknowledged God’s power because rather than being discontent with myself for the next five days (like other times), the reflection in the bathroom mirror brought immediate joy. I started laughing! My heart rejoiced! I thought, I have grown in this area!

 

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller is an international speaker and author of over 55 books including Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, a women’s Bible study on Proverbs. www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Heart Wisdom cover

Heart Wisdom cover

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Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Happy Friday, CAN Family!

 I’m writing to you from deep within the Iowa farm country. It’s chilly, but a small price to pay while on my way to ride my horse this morning. To warm the heart and soul, I’m thrilled to share an interview with professional coach, author,  speaker and teacher Linda Goldfarb. A favorite on the AWSA and CAN circuits, and serving as Regional Group Director for CAN, Linda blesses others with her thriving coaching practice. I caught up with her today and look forward to sharing the wisdom with you. 

 

 

Thank you for joining us today, Linda! Let’s start out learning about some of your passions. What would you like to share with us about the passions of your heart?

 First, I must say thank you for making passion plural. As much as I am a multifaceted daughter-of-the King, my passions are equally numerous. I will say the root of all my passions stems from my love for God’s truth. I’m known for being a Truth-talker by choice.

I’m passionate about my spirituality as I seek God’s Word daily to know more about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and how I can walk out His best for me.

I’m passionate about my family and the role I play in the lives of my four adult children, my grandchildren, and my,(he really is) amazing husband, Sam.

I’m passionate about my health and being a good steward of my body. My goal is not perfection. My goal is to be the healthiest me I can be in the time God has given me here on earth.

I’m passionate about helping my coaching clients grow from strength to strength to experience God’s best life.

I’m passionate about helping others discover more about their God-given personalities.

In addition to serving as the CAN Regional Group Director, where else do you volunteer in your spare time?  Spare time? What’s that? LOLO(Loving Our Lord Out-loud) I’m blessed to have a balanced life – though it hasn’t always been that way.(I’ll leave for for another time.) As far as volunteering—I’ve had the pleasure of serving in multiple capacities in my local church as the women’s ministry director, parenting ministry director, and more. I’ve traveled on mission trips with the youth and adults. I’m honored to volunteer with the San Antonio Marriage Initiative, speaking on parenting, marriage, and personalities across the city at local YMCA facilities. I also mentor writers, speakers, and parents on a regular basis, outside of my coaching clients. Whew!!

Linda Goldfarb

Linda Goldfarb

How do you use this experience in your writing? Hmmm, good question. God has used every experience I’ve walked through in my writing and speaking. No wasted pain, no wasted relationships, no wasted time.

What short, humorous thing would your readers want to know about you or your writing life? I am a pantser. I write in spurts and pray all the dots connect when I’m finished. I talk to my dogs while I write, sharing a thought or two when I get stuck. Their usual response is to wag their tails, lick my face, and lay back down. I take this as affirmation—I’m doing a good job so far!

Do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event? There’s one memorable moment coming to mind. I was the keynote speaker at a ladies retreat in the piney woods of east Texas. Our event took place on a lake and the room we were in had floor to ceiling windows facing out to a deck directly on the water. This one evening, I was sharing on the power of the Holy Spirit in us. As the full-moon cast its glow across the lake it spotlighted a large opossum on the deck who made his presence known by standing up against the window and scratching the glass. Mind you, I was closing out the talk and we were at a pivotal point in the message. The last thing the group needed was a distraction. In that instant the power of the Spirit showed up in a great way. Without hesitating I said, “There are many of us here today who shut down as though playing dead when we are faced with unfamiliar obstacles in our lives. (I threw my shoe at the window, the opossum fell backwards with his feet perfectly still in the air I went on) But, unlike that opossum who has been stopped in his tracks, we have the Holy Spirit who will make a way when there seems to be no way. Let’s pray.” There were many of the women who cornered me to ask how I planned that so perfectly. I replied with a smile, “All things are possible with God.”

Did you find a fascinating fact/story while doing research for your book? The book, Loving the ME God Sees, is about embracing relational transparency for women and it is based on the book of James. For me, I was fascinated by the way God moved me to put pen to paper. It wasn’t with a still small voice, He used a 2×4!

It began on a Monday morning in September of 2009 with my usual routine of getting up early before the rest of the family. Positioning myself on the couch in our sunroom, I read God’s word and contemplated its Truth, current relevance, and finally how I was to apply it to my daily life. This one morning everything was going along as usual when I felt a specific prompting in my heart, “I want you to write a Bible study.” Believe it or not, I actually looked around the room.

Once again an inaudible voice clearly said, “I want you to write a Bible study.”

I chuckled out loud, “You have got to be kidding! There is no way I could write a Bible study. I speak; I don’t write. Well, okay I write articles and How-to Books maybe, but not Bible studies. And besides, I’m not what anyone would consider a Bible scholar.”

I breathed in a deep sigh and quietly justified my feelings, I think there’s been a mistake. With that, I went on about my day refusing to acknowledge a “whisper” as Bill Hybels calls it, from my Father—the struggle was on.

Over the course of two months, God’s whisper remained a constant companion during my quiet time as did my refusal to consider it. Finally on a Friday morning early in November 2009, I’d had enough. His whisper was not going away.

“Fine, if You really want me to write this study, I need to know it’s of You and not just a whim I’m dreaming up. So, today I am claiming the wisdom You say You want to give me according to James 1:5 and I am believing this day You will make it clear if I am to begin writing a Bible study.” With that, I closed my Bible and walked into the rest of my day.

Late that afternoon, I was meeting with some friends of mine from church. When I arrived at our get together, Brenda Blanchard (a dear friend and mighty prayer warrior) walked up to me in her usual sensitive and caring way and said, “Linda, you know I pray for you everyday, right? Well, this morning during my quiet time, God said you were writing a Bible study. What’s it about?”

After a moment of standing there dazed by her pronouncement, I looked up towards the sky, looked back at Brenda and sputtered, “What did you say?”

We laughed together in amazement when I explained the last couple months and my refusal to obey God and His persistence to not let me go about business as usual. The rest as they say is—this story of Loving the ME God Sees. Is God good or what?

What a wonderful story, Linda! Thank you for sharing your heart and your stories with us today!

Linda Goldfarb is a bold communicator who’s passionate about personalities. Her frequently quoted mantra, “transparency transforms” is most definitely experienced by her readers, audiences, and clients. This Powerful-Popular personality is an award-winning author, international speaker, certified personality consultant, professional actress, audiobook narrator, and board-certified Christian life coach. When Linda is not performing, speaking, podcasting, or equipping her clients, you’ll find her sipping frothed coffee and photographing nature from odd angles while she and her hubby, Sam, play golf and hike their way across the USA

www.LivePowerfullyNow.org

Connect with me on Facebook and follow my Tweets.

 

 

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