Experiencing Peace and Trust During Difficult Times

How do we avoid discouragement or depression when events in our world, nation, or lives place us under intense stress?

We are two and a half years into a global pandemic. A nation has been unjustifiably attacked, and other countries including our own are under threat of war. Many have lost faith in the integrity of our government, institutions, and public schools. The United States is experiencing the negative outcomes of self-inflicted policies. Anxiety intensifies when people struggle financially and items they need are inaccessible.

Many people are dealing with personal or family health issues and others are enduring grief. Violence in our cities seems out of control. Fentanyl from China trafficked through Mexico has poisoned tens of thousands of Americans. Drugs continue to damage and kill our population. Family relationships are fractured.

We live in a broken and hurting world. How do we manage when we feel helpless to change the circumstances?   

Jesus told us “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Mankind has had to deal with illness, loss, failure, injustice, persecution, violence, and deprivation since the beginning of time—as a result of sin. “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …” Romans 3:23

We are all flawed. Doing good things, being nice, going to church, or being raised in a Christian family won’t save us. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, only Jesus can. God will forgive us if we confess and repent for our sins with genuine sorrow and Jesus will save us—

God will forgive us if we confess and repent for our sins with genuine sorrow and Jesus will save us—“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  Romans 10:9-10

We can trust that God is Sovereign, and nothing takes Him by surprise

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

When we become a believer, the Holy Spirit indwells us, He guides us, comforts us, convicts us, aids us in discernment and prayer, and enlightens and empowers God’s call in our lives.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26”

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13”

We will always have temptations and trials but because we have the Holy Spirit we never face our difficulties alone. We can experience the peace of God.

The peace of God is more than harmony between  people and groups and the absence of conflict.

With the peace of God, we are “able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7In experiencing God’s peace our trust in Him grows.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”   Matthew 6:26-27

“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

 

How are you dealing with the stresses that life brings?

Meet Susan Mathis, author of Peyton’s Promise

Susan Mathis has another charming story,  Peyton’s Promise, set in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River.

Please tell us about your writing journey, Susan.

I’ve been teaching writing, editing, or writing most of my life. I taught language arts for nine years, and before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction. Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage with an Indonesian and Spanish version, and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, both have helped thousands of couples prepare for marriage. I’m also the author of two picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Moreover, I’m published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. I’ve also several hundred magazine and newsletter articles. But then I started writing fiction…and I’m hooked!

What motivated you to set your stories in the Thousand Islands area?

I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands, so I spent every summer and more exploring the beautiful region. I’ve stayed on several of the islands and camped and rented cottages there. So, after I wrote my debut novel about the largest island, Wolfe Island, I was hooked. There are so many fascinating stories to tell.

Please tell us a little more about the story.

It’s the summer of 1902, and Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position as an upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter, and Peyton’s childhood chum hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.

It’s obvious you researched a great deal for this story. Please share about that.

I LOVE researching! There’s a lot of information in Peyton’s Promise about the women’s suffrage movement and upholstery work. But I really enjoyed researching fireworks—how they’re made, how they’re shot off, etc. I connected with the leading fireworks historical and gleaned lots of great information I sprinkled into the story. I’ll never view another fireworks show the same.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

All of my stories have the central theme of hope and redemption. Peyton’s Promise also explores forgiveness.

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

Yes, every book I write is a journey of healing and hope, and this one was no different. Patrick’s journey of forgiving his father paralleled my journey of forgiving my stepdad.

Where can readers find your books?

You can find links to all my books and more on my website: https://www.susangmathis.com/fiction-books/

Lighthouse Publishing: https://shoplpc.com/peytons-promise/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Peytons-Promise-Thousand-Islands-Guilded/dp/1645263444

Barnes&Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/peytons-promise-susan-g-mathis/1139839195?ean=9781645263449

My Review of ~The Women of the Bible Speak

The Women of the Bible Speak by Shannon Bream was published in 2021 and became a best seller very quickly. After decades of Bible study, I was well acquainted with these sixteen women’s stories and I was intrigued and glad to see the book do so well. I hoped that readers who hadn’t studied the Bible might be motivated to explore the Scriptures. Perhaps I would get some new insights from her presentation of these familiar stories—but I waited.

Then I saw Shannon Bream and others promoting her follow-on book The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak. I bit—and ordered the first book and I’m so glad I did.

Women of the Bible Speak pairs women’s stories together both from the Old the New Testaments. Their stories are all the more fascinating because they took place in cultures where women weren’t valued, yet God did and demonstrated their impact on history. These women had very different personalities and backgrounds. Some were wise and courageous, others flawed, humble, sinful, and some were even outsiders. All played a part in accomplishing God’s purposes through several millennia. Reading about these women’s journeys—their choices, circumstances, and their unique contributions is compelling. Shannon Bream provides fresh insights into these women’s lives, as well as encouragement and lessons we can all use.

I just bought The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak and can’t wait to start reading it. (It is now also a best seller) I know I will continue to learn from this very gifted author and the inspiring women of the Bible.

 

Shannon Bream is the host of Fox News @ Night at midnight on weekdays and the network’s Chief Legal Correspondent. A native Floridian, she started her career as an attorney. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Liberty University, a Juris Doctorate with honors from Florida State University College of Law, and a former Miss America finalist.

Susan Mathis and The Thousand Islands Gilded Age

The books Susan Mathis writes take place in the Thousand Islands area of upper New York. Her fascinating settings are almost a character in themselves Her newest release is Colleen’s Confession.

Susan, why do you write Thousand Islands Gilded Age stories?

Susan:   The American Gilded Age was a time of rapid technical advances, industrialization, and thousands of new inventions from about 1870-1910. Mark Twain coined the term in his 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today that satirized the era of social problems that were masked by a layer of thin, gold gilding. It’s a fascinating time in history, especially in the Thousand Islands.

All of my books are set during the Thousand Islands Gilded Age when the wealthy came and scooped up the islands and built lavish summer homes, mansions, and castles. It was an era of economic growth. Since wages were higher than in Europe, massive immigration drew about twenty million to the U.S. shores. Unions fought to stop child labor and establish an eight-hour workday. Social reforms included women’s suffrage, prohibition, and other civil changes. In the cities, labor unions became important in regulating industry, while trusts grew stronger in several industries. Education, prohibition, and racial inequalities dominated politics as did economic affairs of money supply and tariffs.

Unfortunately, it was also a time of unequal distribution of wealth where the rich got richer and the poor working-class suffered. Many young women worked as servants until they married, and that’s what my stories are about—those nameless, faithful women who cooked and cleaned and served tables for the rich and famous. These “downstairs” women had fascinating stories to tell, and I plan to tell many of them.

The Gilded Age titans of industry changed our world—people like John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, George Pullman, and others who were sometimes called “robber barons.” But there were others who quietly made a difference—people like Frederick Bourne who took the Singer sewing machine around the globe as highlighted in my novel, Devyn’s Dilemma.

During the Gilded Age, America led the world in innovation. A half-million patents were issued for new inventions including hundreds by Thomas Edison, Westinghouse, and others. Thanks to inventions such as the delivery of electric power, the world became lighter, safer, more convenient and comfortable, and all-around better.

So this is why I write Thousand Islands Gilded Age stories. To share the rich heritage this era gave us and better understand what it was like. What fascinates you about this time? I’d love to know.

About Colleen’s Confession:

Summer 1914

Colleen Sullivan conceals secrets when she joins her aunt on Comfort Island to work in the laundry and await her betrothed’s arrival. She loves to draw and dreams of growing in the craft. But tragedy strikes when her fiancé perishes in the sinking of the ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland on his way to meet her. With her orphan dreams of finally belonging and becoming a wife and an artist gone, what will her future hold?

Austrian immigrant, Jack Weiss, enjoys being the island’s groundskeeper and is smitten by the lovely Irish lass. But Colleen dismisses him at every turn, no matter how much he admires her art, tries to keep her safe, and waters the blossoms of love. Perhaps introducing her to the famous impressionist, Alson Skinner Clark, will brighten her opinion of him. But rumors of war in Europe mean Jack must choose between joining his homeland’s army or staying safe in the Thousand Islands as he makes a life with Colleen. If she will have him.

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022. Rachel’s Reunion is coming soon. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and Reagan’s Reward, are award winners, too. Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

Here are the links to connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads | Google+ | CAN | 

Setting Two Hearts Free ~ A Year later

 

I wrote Setting Two Hearts Free hoping to reach those who suffer from the invisible wounds of war and other trauma. And for their loved ones and families also struggling to best know how to help and cope.

A year after the release of Setting Two Hearts Free, I’m so grateful for those who endorsed and posted reviews for this story. Endorsements and reviews are essential to help books to gain visibility.

“A touching, timeless story of love and loyalty, hardship and hope. Setting Two Hearts Free honors our faith-filled forefathers, many of them Scottish like Mary Stewart and Donald Duncan, whose legacy is the lifeblood of our American heritage and must not be forgotten. Well done!”

Laura Frantz, Christy Award-winning author of An Uncommon Woman

“In Setting Two Hearts Free, Grunst shines at creating the engaging characters that populate the charming backcountry Virginia inn. Set in 1781, several years after the two previous books of the series, the story now centers on the Stewarts’ older daughter, Mary, and Donald Duncan, the son of their friends in Alexandria.

Grunst vividly depicts the trauma of war from the front lines to the home front, where those left behind must maintain farms and businesses in the absence of husbands, sons, and brothers. A soldier in the Continental Army, Donald endures exhaustion, disillusionment, and the mental and emotional toll of battle. A future with Mary feels increasingly out of reach. With Donald’s extended absences, Mary increasingly harbors doubts about their relationship as well, particularly when during a British invasion she suffers a shattering trauma.

Grunst realistically and compassionately portrays the harsh wounds of war that Donald and Mary individually endure. The healing process that gradually draws them into a deeper, more intimate relationship of mutual dependence and shared strength provides encouragement and spiritual insight for readers who may face struggles in their relationships.”

—J. M. Hochstetler, author of The American Patriot Series

“It is often in the aftermath of tragedy’s physical scars that we realize the deepest and most lasting wounds lie within. Author Janet Grunst brings us hope in this beautifully poignant tale of love torn apart by war’s terrible secrets; and truth, the invitation to God’s healing grace to make us whole.”

“A beautifully heartrending story of love’s triumph in truth amidst the atrocities of war.”

 —Kate Breslin, bestselling author of Far Side of the Sea

“Author Janet Grunst has again brought a crucial time in our nation’s history to life through the continuing Stewart family saga. Separated by Donald Duncan’s enlistment to fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War, he and Mary Stewart are no longer wide-eyed young teens filled with dreams, but they have become young adults facing difficult realities. Grunst weaves each of their stories with delicacy through the tragedies which befall them. Donald and Mary must decide whether they will allow these trials to determine their future. Readers of clean historical romance will be touched by this tender and positive story of what honesty, faith, and perseverance truly mean. Highly recommend!”

~Kathleen Rouser, award-winning author of Rumors and Promises. 

“In Setting Two Hearts Set Free, author Janet Grunst does a remarkable job tackling the subjects of PTSD and sexual abuse, without marginalizing the recovery processes. The author adds enough tension to keep readers turning the pages; she also adds enough doubt to keep them wondering how the story will end. Grunst tenderly relieves the characters’ pain with poultices of faith, family, hope, and love. Though set in the American Revolutionary War era, this story transcends generations. Wonderful read.”

~ Clarice G. James, award-winning author of The Girl He Knew, Manhattan Grace, Doubleheader, and Party of One

Thank you

Setting Two Hearts Free can be purchased at Amazon by selecting the link on the right and the following booksellers:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/setting-two-hearts-free-janet-grunst/1137453926?ean=9781645262800

https://shoplpc.com/setting-two-hearts-free/

 

The Series is Finished—Now What?

Setting Two Hearts Free, the last story in my Revolutionary War series, was released in the fall of 2020, preceded by A Heart For Freedom in 2018 and A Heart Set Free in 2016. I began writing the series in the 1980s but put it aside for many years.

 

 

 

 

In the midst of that, I had the fun opportunity of writing a novella in

collaboration with three other Smitten authors. My story is The Year Without Summer in The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection which was released in 2019.

 

Authors can get very attached to their characters when they spend years writing a series. But then it’s time to move on to other stories and other characters, and in my case a different era. I am currently writing a story about the Irish potato famine which took place in the mid-1800s. It was during the potato famine that some of my ancestors emigrated from Ulster Ireland.

A time of starvation and emigration

There were successive potato crop failures but the famine of 1845-1852 was the worst. It is estimated that one million people died of starvation and disease and another million people emigrated. Many of those emigrating to Canada and other countries perished on the ships. Many, like one of my characters, emigrated to the United States.

This story has a twist that connects it to the novella and the series. I’m about three-quarters of the way through it so stay tuned.