Categories
Devotional

Building Relationships in the Crazy COVID Crisis

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.

Categories
New Releases

NEW RELEASE – Reagan’s Reward by Susan G Mathis

Reagans Reward Book Cover
Reagan’s Reward

Title: Reagan’s Reward
Author: Susan G Mathis
Genre: Historical
Publisher: smWordWorks

ISBN-13: 978-0692686645

About the book:

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?

About the author:

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.

Categories
Book reviews

Book Review: Reagan’s Reward

Reagan's Reward
Reagan’s Reward

Interested in a historical novel? Reagan’s Reward is one you’ll enjoy . . .

In the summer of 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 and tending to eight-year-old mischievous boys brings trouble galore.

Daniel Lovitz serves as the island’s caretaker and boatman. When he tries to help the alluring Reagan make sense of her new world, her insecurities mount as her confidence is shaken―especially when she crosses the faith divide and when Etta Damsky makes her life miserable. As trouble brews, Daniel sees another side of the woman he’s come to love.

Check out her book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc3W_tu55vE

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And here’s the book review, reprinted with permission:

The beauty of the Thousand Islands is but one reason Susan G Mathis writes such wonderful stories about them. The history and enchantment of the islands create the perfect backdrop for the mystery, romance, and godly journeys Susan develops with her characters, especially in Reagan’s Reward.

Susan takes one of her main characters, Reagan, a tender, sweet, young lady and places her in a tumultuous setting with a gruff patriarch who is opposed to Reagan as well as her faith.

Masterfully, Mathis brings her characters to a pinnacle outcome spurred on by the mischievous twin boys she is to govern and the island’s caretaker, Daniel, who is so intrigued by Reagan that his own faith is challenged and matured.

The journey to a pleasing outcome is sidetracked by the forks in the road of life making the reader wonder if things will ever work out. Such a satisfying and fulfilling read that will leave you better for reading this wonderful story written by Susan Mathis. ~ Laurie Raker

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Susan G Mathis, author
Susan G Mathis, author

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 Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and her newest, Reagan’s Reward, 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 information.

Categories
Encouragement

Discerning the Times

 

Sometimes it’s so hard to discern what’s going on in your life emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually. Something is off-kilter, but you just can’t put your hands on it. You’re not quite yourself. You’re edgy. You’re frustrated. You’re tense. Or your relationships aren’t quite right. You’re distant. Distracted. Touchy.

And then it hits you.

It’s been days since you’ve prayed or spent quality time with God. Or maybe you’ve gotten hooked on a television show or a novel that’s not good for your soul. Or perhaps you’ve been hanging out with a friend who loves to gossip or spew negativity or fear. Now what?

In today’s hyper politicized, fear-mongering, propaganda-driven world, Godly discernment is more important than ever! But how?

Learning to discern such things is a spiritual gift, and a discipline, that you can cultivate in your life. First Corinthians 2:10-14 talks about this gift. It’s the ability to judge between good and evil, and then it’s choosing to live in the light of God’s truth. That’s what makes the difference.

Discernment comes when you understand what God wants for you personally and for your relationships. But wisdom comes when you choose to obey His truth. Sometimes it’s choosing to spend more time in prayer or the word, more time together as a couple or family, and less time with unhealthy friends or listening to media. Sometimes it’s simply applying common sense to something. Other times it’s stepping back, observing a situation and praying, reading God’s word, and finding the truth in the matter.

“Do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion” (Proverbs 3:21).

In our personal lives, we need wisdom and understanding more than ever. Our culture has become so tainted with the “wisdom of this world” that it can become difficult to make daily decisions and choose well if we don’t have the plumb line of God’s truth to anchor us well.

In my latest novel, Devyn’s Dilemma, Devyn couldn’t discern who she was and how God loved her. Her past and her fears blinded her to the truth. She struggled to know God’s truth. She believed the lie.

Discerning between God’s truth and worldly wisdom isn’t always easy, but learning to discern wisely is the best way to strengthen your personal life and your marriage relationship spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. It’s a good way to go.

How have you learned to discern through the years? I’d love to know!

Susan G Mathis
Susan G Mathis
Devyn's Dilemma by Susan G Mathis
Devyn’s Dilemma by Susan G Mathis

Susan G. Mathis is vice-president of Christian Authors Network and an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate New York. Her first two published books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series are Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Encouragement

Bûche de Noël Yule Log Cake (part two)

 

No need to put away favorite holiday traditions just yet! I have more to say about the Yule Log tradition. In a previous post, “The Christmas Yule Log (part one)” I explained the origin (see December 23).

Since most homes now have central heat and gas fireplaces, the Yule log custom has been replaced by a log-shaped cake called Bûche de Noël. In my new book Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake was Sara’s special Yule Log wedding cake.

The name Bûche de Noël originally referred to the Yule Log itself, but was transferred to the dessert after the custom had fallen out of use during the first half of the 20th century. By 1945, Bûche de Noël referred to the cake.

A Yule Log cake (or Bûche de Noël) is a traditional dessert served at Christmas, especially in the United Kingdom, Catalonia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Lebanon, and other French colonies. It’s resembles an actual Yule Log.

The original Yule Log recipe developed during the 19th century. It is traditionally yellow sponge cake baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, iced with chocolate buttercream frosting and rolled to form a cylinder, then iced again on the outside. Often the icing is flavored with liquors or espresso.

Yule logs are often served with one end cut off and set atop the cake, or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped-off branch. Dragging a fork through the icing gives it a bark-like texture, and powdered sugar is sprinkled to resemble snow. It can be decorated with actual tree branches, berries and ivy, or these can be made from marzipan.

Consider making a Yule Log decoration a tradition.

To make a Yule Log to adorn your table, you’ll need the following (real or bought at a craft store):

  • A log about 14 – 18 inches long
  • Pine cones, dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
  • Feathers, cinnamon sticks
  • Festive ribbon (use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type)
  • A hot glue gun

Wrap the log loosely with the ribbon, leaving enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. You might even want to place a feather on your Yule Log to represent each member of the family. Once branches and cuttings are in place, glue the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries.

Use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table, surrounded by candles and holiday greenery. You may ask each family member to write down a wish for the upcoming year and insert notes into the ribbons. Then you can talk about your hopes for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next twelve months.

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 NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of published articles. She lives in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

Categories
Encouragement

The Christmas Yule Log (part one)

 

In Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake became a special Yule Log wedding cake. For Sara, it was the perfect cake for her Christmas wedding. But where did the Yule Log tradition come from?

The custom of the Yule Log goes back to before medieval times. It was originally based on the Nordic tradition of Yule, a Winter Solstice festival. Burning the Yule Log was one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in early modern Europe, with the first recording of its appearance dating to 1184. For the Christian feast of Christmas, the Yule Log symbolizes the battle between good and evil. “As the fire grows brighter and burns hotter, and as the log turned into ashes, it symbolized Christ’s final and ultimate triumph over sin.”

The traditional Yule Log was originally an entire tree carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log that was carefully stored away. Then, the Yule Log was slowly burned throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the Yule Log tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from evil spirits. On Christmas morning something green, a leaf or the like, was brought into the house before anything was taken out. A piece of the Yule Log was then saved to light the next year’s log.

In Provence, France, the whole family helps to cut the log down and a little bit is burnt each night. In the Netherlands, the leftover log is stored under a bed. In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.

The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kinds of wood are used in different countries. In England, oak is traditional; in Scotland, birch; in France, cherry wood is sprinkled with wine before it’s burned so it smells nice.

In Devon and Somerset in the UK, some people use ash twigs instead of a log. This comes from a local legend that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds collected twigs to burn and keep them warm. In Ireland they use a large candle instead of a log that’s lit on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night.

In France, the Yule Log is bûche de noel where a custom required that peasants to bring a log to their lord. In Burgundy, gifts were hidden under the log. In Brittany and in Provence prayers were offered as the log was lit, a custom still widely observed called cacho fio (blessing of the log). The eldest male parades the log around the house three times. Then it’s blessed with wine and lit with the ashes of the previous year’s log.

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 NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. Learn more about The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise at www.SusanGMathis.com. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling globally and Skyping with her four granddaughters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

 

Categories
Devotional Encouragement

Who Hates Conflict?

 

I hate conflict. I hate getting into disagreements with my husband. I don’t like having a spat with a friend. As a parent, I hated the constant conflict resolution that was needed when my two kids didn’t get along.

As a teacher, I sure didn’t enjoy being the one who had to break up the many tiffs between pubescent girls. And as a Grandma? Well, let’s just say that conflict’s not in the grandma cards.

So when I began writing fiction, I knew that conflict is a main ingredient to a good story. To write good, compelling fiction, I had to have compelling conflict that would hold the reader’s attention. But how was I going to address the very thing that tempted me to run? I had to settle that question—and quick!

Although conflict is often present in almost every day of our lives, we may overlook or ignore it. When confronted with conflict, I tend to self-talk, fret, stew, worry, and struggle with sleepless nights. But those ways of dealing with conflict won’t make a good story.

Conflict is uncomfortable, and most conflict just plain hurts. But that’s what keeps readers reading. Like you and me, readers want to know how others deal with conflict, how characters try and fail and try again and finally succeed.

Because it’s hard for me to invent conflict when I want to avoid it, I had to be aware of this weakness. So when doing rewrites and editing, I often have to add an element of conflict or deepen it.

In Sara’s Surprise, there’s a lot of conflict going on—conflict I drew on from personal experience.

Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic.

In Sara’s Surprise, Sara struggles to work as a pastry chef, navigating abuse and harassment by her volatile French boss, as was all-too common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, under-paid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.

As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly, too. And I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.

Sara’s Surprise explores this problem from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries. And the lovely Christmas surprise will delight you this holiday season. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy the story.

Susan G. Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

 

Categories
New Releases

New Release: Sarah’s Surprise by Susan G. Mathis

Sara’s Surprise

by Susan G Mathis

Genre: historical romance

Publisher: smWordWorks

ISBN-13: 978-1087235714

Released: October 20, 2019

About the book: 

Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.

Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

 

Susan G Mathis
Susan G Mathis

About the author: 

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit https://www.susangmathis.com/fiction-books for more.

Categories
Devotional Encouragement

Words Matter

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.

Katelyn's Choice
Katelyn’s Choice by Susan G. Mathis
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.

 

Categories
Devotional Encouragement

History Matters

“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.