Life During COVID During the Spring and Summer of 2020

Sometimes it’s easier to endure and thrive during times of crisis when we know others are sharing our same struggles. So about a week ago, I asked some friends several questions regarding their journey through this challenging period COVID-19 has given us. Here are the questions and their answers.

1. Besides missing contact with family, friends, and usual church activities, what has been the most challenging for you during these past six months?

~ Surprised and sad at how people ‘shut down & shut off’ friends they disagree with. I have missed the ‘freedoms’ experienced before this (just going & doing, & not feeling the ‘heaviness’ of others who are so hurting). 

~ Not being able to just jump in the car and go somewhere, anywhere, without “suiting up”. It discourages me from going out. 

~ I also greatly miss the freedom to go somewhere, anywhere, without consciously remembering to wear a mask.  This action just reminds me that there is an invisible threat to my health.

~ Not feeling I can make normal plans and a sense of uncertainty around others in their homes. Do I wear a mask? Do I not wear one? Political unrest.

~ My husband, who worked part-time from home, was laid off in the beginning of the quarantine. He has required a lot more of the time that I was used to devoting to writing. I almost given up writing because I feel guilty being busy when he is unsettled and lonely. 

~ Being with people, and our biggest challenge is that we’re tired of zoom, though it has had its place. 

~ Managing my diet and making healthy eating choices.

~ Keeping myself busy, I don’t have any more closets or cabinets to straighten or clean out; spring cleaning was accomplished earlier than scheduled.

~ I miss seeing people’s smiles and going places.

2. Are you finding it difficult to concentrate or accomplish what you want to do or maintain a normal routine?

~ To-Do lists have helped but I don’t complete them all.  My day to day routine is Not the routine I had before this… 

~ Yes. Without attending church and no appointments, no lunch with friends, and avoiding shopping as much as possible, it’s hard to stay on a routine. With less socializing, I find it difficult to be creative. 

~ Feeling like this “season” seems endless, it has taken much more intentional discerning what to do each day. 

~ I find it hard to concentrate on reading. I thought, for sure I’d finish all the books I started. On the other hand,)

~ I find myself sleeping later, and not always getting dressed for the day the way I did pre-COVID.  I can’t seem to really structure myself productively some days.

~ It’s been hard to adjust to my husband working from home some days. Not feeling well. It’s harder to make goals as one day flows into another, not having my regular activities going on.

~ Finding motivation to accomplish something as simple as cleaning a closet is difficult; not hard to convince myself to push it off until tomorrow.

~ I set goals when the quarantine started that I haven’t met but wait … it’s not over yet.

~ We’re finding it very difficult to maintain a normal routine, I find being outside working in our yard is a help, except when the temperatures are 90  degrees!!

 

      But Mom, we’ve already been                        on three walks today.

3. What are some of your coping strategies during this unusual season?

~ I started a small exercise routine, which I am motivated to keep. When I take my cat out in the morning, all he does is sits, so I jog in place!

~ I tend to hide in a book, reading to escape. 

~ Our coping strategies are just trusting the Lord.  We know He is sovereign and is doing amazing things during this chaotic time.  Knowing He has this in His hands gives us the freedom to live life with joy and peace. 

~ Counting my blessings as well as more time in devotions, prayer, study & reading of God’s word. I am so grateful for His goodness.

~ Keeping my time in the Word and with God every morning anchors my heart and mind. There’s nothing like the W.O.G to level all playing fields, keeping hope and truth upfront and center!

~ I listen to music, mostly classical and Christian more.  I also have been listening to Prophecy YouTube videos, rereading Christian books, and working on a Bible study that I started in June.  My husband takes me on drives in our beautiful community several times during the week, and a milkshake is always a good idea.

~ Reconnecting with friends and family, staying in God’s Word and prayer, my husband and I working on communication and our relationship.

~ Make a list of what needs to be done and DO IT, and don’t make the list unrealistically demanding; daily time in prayer and the Bible for the correct perspective of circumstances.

~ I enjoy making cards, rubber stamping, and coming up with ideas for birthday cards and Christmas cards. so have been working on ideas for cards.  I’ve also been trying out new recipes for dinner ideas and desserts (which I should not be doing, desserts that is.)

~ Keep to a normal routine … spend time in God’s Word and pray.

4. What positive outcomes have you discovered during this period?

~ More than usual special times with daughter & her family. An affirmation of whose hands hold me and whose plan is perfect. 

~ I’ve enjoyed every day. I have come to appreciate the simplicity of each day. Getting up, getting dressed, exercising, watching, my Korean dramas… sitting on the front porch while my young neighbors climb my front tree and talk to me! Making meals, being so grateful for food, for my husband’s work(it makes him happy) God’s provision… and the grace and opportunity to pray for others and the world. With the pandemic killing so many, I found myself praying for mercy for the world’s people. I pray it’s a sprout of mercy I’ll take the time to nurture and grow. 

~ I have most definitely grown closer to the Lord.  My house is cleaner, and my husband and I enjoy watching old movies and TV shows together.  I also have been writing notes to people.  It is my joy just to sit on my porch and watch the birds, and the squirrels among my favorite plants.  I also love to just sit on the porch when it rains.

~ Having time to face some issues and relinquishing them to God. Praying for our country and leaders.

~We enjoyed taking long walks. However, the recent air quality issues due to forest fires from other states have made that difficult. We have spent a lot of time with my sister and her family. That has been a blessing. 

~The Body of Christ has been out of the building and in their neighborhoods and ministering to those around them. We see more clearly the spiritual battle going on and know our prayers are important.

~ The increased time with my husband has been a blessing; financial savings with no maid service and less eating out!

~ Positive thoughts – Even with all the negative things that are impacting our lives at this time. Regularly able to raise prayer in thanks for so many blessings. We have a wonderful community with loving Christian friends that we keep in touch with. We are fortunate to be retired and even though my husband was laid off of his second job, God continues to provide all we need. Many of us are still able to participate in

 our church services both electronically and in-person for regular reinforcement. We see many things occurring around us that are obvious answers to our prayers.

~ Done more baking, organized closets, and spent more time in prayer … and exercising.

I hope this has been an encouragement as you travel through these challenging times … and stay well.

Setting Two Hearts Free

Two months from today is the release of Setting Two Hearts Free, the third book in my Revolutionary War series. For those who haven’t read A Heart Set Free or A Heart For Freedom, this is a stand-alone story, though you’ll better understand the characters’ background by reading the first two books.

Setting Two Hearts Free picks up in 1781 five years after A Heart For Freedom ends and focuses on the younger generation. The war is winding down but the danger and challenges the characters face haven’t—and some will last long after leaving the battlefield.

Here’s the blurb from Setting Two Hearts Free:

Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost, Setting Two Hearts Free?

A Heart Set Free was a Selah Award winner. A Heart For Freedom was a Christian Indie Award winner.

For more updates here is where you can follow me:

​https://JanetGrunst.com                                                                                                                                              https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216                                                                                                                                                     https://colonialquills.blogspot.com/                                                                                                                                https://www.instagram.com/janetgrunst/                                                                                                                  https://twitter.com/janetgrunst                                     

https://www.pinterest.com/janetgrunst/ 

Meet Talia Sampson in Kathy Rouser’s latest book Flying Into Love

Janet: Hi, Talia. I understand you moved into that lovely Victorian mansion about a year ago.  What brought you to Maple Grove, Michigan?

Talia: When I was growing up, I used to spend much of each summer visiting my Aunt Violet and became very close to her. She became seriously ill almost a year ago. Since she doesn’t have any children of her own and my sister, Ashley, travels so much for work, it was natural that I would come and help take care of Aunt Vi. I couldn’t stand to think of her depending on only a couple of friends or heaven forbid, a stranger.

Janet: We all miss your Aunt Violet. She was such a generous person and a sensitive and perceptive writer. I believe Vi mentioned you also had writing ambitions. What kind of writing do you do?

Talia: My degree is actually in special education, but I minored in creative writing. I’ve dreamed of becoming a novelist for several years now, so sometimes I play around with story ideas. I do have a proposal written up for a novel I’m working on, but it’s coming along very slowly since I’m so busy. Between taking over my aunt’s advice column, which is supposed to be a secret, by the way, and caring for my niece, who has time for writing fiction?

Janet: You must stay busy between your writing and taking care of your niece, Bianca. Raising children can be so challenging. Did her parents pass away?

Talia: No, Bianca’s father is a no-good, you-know-what. It makes me furious to think how he left Ashley and hasn’t been any support since. And Ashley’s high-powered job takes her many places. Honestly, I think it was hard for both of them to accept that Bianca has challenges with her Down Syndrome, but I think she is perfect the way she is.

Janet: When I was in the hardware store, I was introduced to a veteran who is staying with you and helping with odd jobs. How did that come about? Was he a friend of Violet’s?

Talia: Ben Tanner, yes, well, it was quite unexpected… Apparently, at one time, Aunt Vi opened Sampson Mansion to veterans readjusting to civilian life. We have an apartment over the garage for that purpose. I really didn’t feel prepared to have a stranger around. Worrying about Bianca is enough as it is. But he had proof that Violet was part of the Welcome Homes program, and Janine, the housekeeper, kind of guilted me into letting him stay. He offered to help out at least.

Janet: He’s quite attractive and she mentioned he’s single. Are you hoping he’ll stay in town?

Talia: Goodness, my face feels flushed. Hold on, let me open the window here in my office… Okay, I’m back. Much better. Yes, that he is—attractive I mean—but don’t tell him I said that just right now. I’m not sure if I’m ready to start dating again. I must say he has the most piercing hazel eyes and gorgeous black hair. The rest of him doesn’t look so bad either. He is quite dependable, kind, makes me laugh, and Bianca is quite taken with him, so I would really like for him to settle in Maple Grove—I mean—his skill set would be a great addition to our town.

Janet: It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Talia. I hope we can have tea some time.

Talia: Tea sounds lovely. Let me know when you’d like to stop by. I still have some of Aunt Vi’s beautiful china to serve it on. Thanks for inviting me to chat with you, Janet.

Kathy’s Bio:

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, and a multi-published author of historical Christian romance. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She’s in the grip of God’s grace and is a fan of the three Cs—cats, coffee, and chocolate. The mother of three, who is a former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and current Community Bible Study kids’ teacher, lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of thirty-some years, and two sweet cats who found a home in their empty nest.

 

Social media and buying links

Website: http://kathleenrouser.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathleenRouser

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

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kathleen-rouser

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7427871.Kathleen_Rouser

 

Buy link for Flying Into Love:

https://books2read.com/u/3LDxaD?fbclid=IwAR1yIyEtlq9uvkMQaCBBxL0u5Eaz18XvDtmFSGMrDgOsFjpaeTCkLlvwUik

My Amazon page with links to all my books: https://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Rouser/e/B00P3BR662?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1587786152&sr=8-1

 

Within Golden Bands the sequel to Land of My Dreams

It’s a pleasure to welcome you back Norma Gail, upon the release Within Golden Bands. Please tell us something about yourself, Norma. 

Thank you for hosting me, Janet! I’m excited to share my books with your readers.

I’m a former RN and homeschool/soccer mom who has made up stories since I was a child. My debut novel, Land of My Dreams, released in 2014. It took longer than I hoped for the sequel to come about for a lot of reasons but I’m excited to finally have a release date of May 19th. I also write weekly devotionals on my own website at www.NormaGail.org, and am a monthly contributor to the inspirational website, Inspire a Fire.

My husband and I live on the side of a mountain, at 7200 feet in elevation, outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy the beauty of nature and a perfect setting for writing. We love taking long walks in our quiet neighborhood and enjoying the view from our patio, which stretches about 100 miles and allows us views of three different mountain ranges. Readers of Land of My Dreams will recognize the description of the view from Bonny’s New Mexico house.

My husband was already partially retired and working from home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. That ended his part-time job, so he graciously stays busy while I write and work on book promotion. We enjoy heading out in our RV with my younger sister and her husband to Northern New Mexico. We took three big trips last year but this year’s travel plans are on hold until we see what direction the world is heading.

I remember that the inspiration for Land of my Dreams came when you and your husband visited Scotland for your thirtieth wedding anniversary. 

Yes, our anniversary trip was the inspiration for my first book. The second we stepped off the plane in Scotland, I felt as if I had come home. I kept dreaming about a man wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes on a misty hillside surrounded by sheep. When I broke my foot and ended up in a wheelchair for 8 weeks, Bonny and Kieran’s story was born.

Please tell us about your new release Within Golden Bands.

Here is the back cover copy for Within Golden Bands:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. Are faith and love enough to hold their fledgling marriage together?

Within Golden Bands is a deeply personal story and one that will touch many readers in a meaningful way. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

My husband and I have two grown children, both of whom are adopted. The topic of adoption plays a huge role in the plot of Within Golden Bands. The years of infertility doctors, and surgeries with no answers, left an indelible mark on us. This is a huge struggle for couples, no matter how long they have been married. We learned a lot about the faithfulness of God and the importance of being content as a couple and supportive of one another through that period of our lives. The couples we met chose many different ways of facing the decision of whether to pursue fertility treatments, adoption or remain childless. In our case, even though we discussed adoption before we married, my husband was ready first. The desire to be a mother is a difficult thing for any woman to surrender to God.

Our journey to parenthood took four years. We were married for eight years when we adopted our son. Our daughter came along 21 ½ months later. They have brought so much joy. It’s impossible to imagine life without them.

My favorite quote from the book is: “If we fail to accept what God sends with trusting hearts, we refuse His greatest blessings.”

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing this story?

As I said earlier, Within Golden Bands was a long time coming. Both our extended and immediate families went through some ups and downs that required attention. God has a perfect time for each book. I received two rejections and went through many rewrites before I heard the story God intended me to write. Part of the problem was listening to what other people thought. You have to write the story God places in your heart for the pieces to come together.

The topic of abortion has come to the forefront in the political arena again, so a story about people who choose life fits our times very well. Most people need to be more educated about adoption. I also discovered that feelings I thought I had dealt with over 35 years ago were still buried deep inside. Though Bonny and Kieran’s story is not ours, her character voices many of the emotions I experienced back then.

Also, like the characters in the book, we went through a major threat to our livelihood at the time began our second adoption. Things were pretty scary for a while and caused us to lean on the Lord because we were faced with a situation that left us powerless.

Where can readers find Land of my Dreams?

Both books are available on Amazon

Land of My Dreamshttps://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail-ebook/dp/B01ENKEL02/

Within Golden Bands – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084TSQ432/

What are your social media sights?

You can follow me at:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNormaGail/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/norma-gail-holtman-3b271a42/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/normagailth/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/normagailwrites/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Norma-Gail/e/B00ILHXBAK/

Thank you so much, for being my guest, Norma.

It was my pleasure! Thank you for being there as a friend when my book was rejected and for sharing my love of all things Scottish!

 

Our Security During  COVID-19

March 28, 2020

Within the past few weeks, our lives have changed dramatically. The coronavirus or COVID-19 has impacted society at every level. It’s brought anxiety, confusion, illness, death and financial distress throughout our nation and the world.

How do we resist becoming isolated, fearful, discouraged, and frustrated during these times?

Isolation:

Television and radio entertain and keep us up to date with helpful news (as well as the junk we don’t need). Fortunately, we have access to a variety of technological means to keep us in touch with one another. Beyond telephones, texting, and emails, there is a myriad of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. to help keep up to date with each other. Other tools such as Face Time, Zoom, Marco Polo, etc. provide visual and audible means of connecting professionally and personally.

Fear:

“God is our refuge and strength,  a very present help in trouble.

Psalms 46:1

 “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

He will cover you with his feathers,  and under his wings you will find refuge;
 his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Psalms 91:2,4-6

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. 

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1Peter 5:7

“He says, ‘Be stilland know that I am God;”

Psalm 46:10

Discouragement, and Frustration:

 Roy Lessin has generously allowed me to share from his devotional Meet Me in the Meadow.

From August 3. 

“God has not made the earth and abandoned it. He has not retreated somewhere in the universe and gone into hiding. He is today where He has always been, on His throne. God sees all things, knows all things, and is all-powerful. God is all in all. He is above all. Nothing is above Him or equal to Him. There is no king or ruler that has more authority than God; there is no political figure that has more influence than God; there is no nation that has more control than God. No one can out-think Him, or out-smart Him. He is God Almighty. He has all authority in heaven and earth. His enemies are under His feet. He reigns and rules. He is the majesty on High.”

Meanwhile, we can

Pray:

For all medical providers, first responders, and all service industries serving on the front lines.

           For our families, friends, and neighbors.

           For our nation and the world.

           For our government and spiritual leaders

          For revival in our land

 

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves

and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Give:

          If possible, be generous with others in service and or provision.

           Encourage others who are even more isolated.

           If able, donate blood since there’s a shortage.

 

Clothe ourselves spiritually:

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”     Ephesians 6:11-18 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

St. Patrick’s Breastplate is a prayer attributed to Ireland’s patron saint. According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting Leoghaire, the King of Tara or High King of Ireland and his subjects, from paganism to Christianity.

 

 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Reminiscent of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (6:11-18) 

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”