Helping Shut-Ins Not Feel Shut Out

In this episode:

Being shut in doesn't have to mean being shut out. In this episode, author Kathy Carlton Willis and I chat about how she's made the most of needing to stay isolated during COVID-19 and how she's made it into a ministry to others. Get practical ideas for how you can serve someone who's shut in at home.

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Inspired Life

In this episode, I chatted with author Kathy Carlton Willis about how COVID-19 affected her personally, and we talked about what it is like living with chronic health challenges when the risk is high. Kathy shared how the last nine months of mostly isolation have been for her and how she has experienced a pause on her normal speaking, conferences, local ministry, and personal connection to friends.

Kathy has learned new ways to reach out and have a personal ministry to others via technology. She’s used creativity in how she’s turned a time of being shut in into an opportunity to help others. After having her own small group have to take a break because of not being able to meet in person, and not being able to attend worship services, Kathy didn’t spend time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she sprang into action.

Life, Repurposed

We talked about two factors: how she has repurposed her time and attention and still found meaningful ways to minister to others while being more limited and confined, and also about how others might think outside of the box to reach out to people who are more confined.

First, Kathy shared some ideas for what she’s been doing to reach out to others. One thing she has done is to record short voice messages and then send them to people who God places on her heart. Using texts and social media messages, she has recorded prayers and words of encouragement for many people. Often someone will say it was just what they needed and she had no idea.

She’s also found ways to connect with friends and fellow writers. The conferences she hosts for writers have turned into at-home retreats with Zoom meetings. She’s also started doing a Grin and Grow break devotional on her Facebook page several times each week (link below). Followers can listen in for a short message. Kathy also used the time with fewer commitments to work on several books, one of which is coming out in November.

During this time, Kathy has had thoughtful people offer to pick up something at the store and deliver it to her porch with no contact and distancing.

That led us to brainstorm a bit about ways that we could be more aware of people who are shut in, whether it’s right now or because of a treatment they are undergoing. COVID-19 has made us more aware, but there have always been shut in people.


  • Check in on someone and see how they are doing.
  • If you’re running errands, ask someone who is isolated if there is anything they need that you could pick up and drop off to them.
  • Offer to stop at the pharmacy or mail a package.
  • Ask what their favorite treat is and offer to drop it off on your way by.
  • If hosting a small group, consider how to place a computer camera so that some members can participate online. Look for ways to include them in the discussion.

Consider ways to have post-service conversations for those who can only do online church.

Recommended Resources

Kathy is working on a brand new book in her God’s Grin Gal brand. It will be released in late 2020. In the meantime, you’ll find her other books on her website,

Especially check out The Grin Gal's Guide to Joy: A Story, Study & Steps 7-Week Bible Study by Kathy Carlton Willis.

Kathy is also a regular columnist on CBN with a blog called Grin and Grow with Kathy where she shares insights and wisdom. Some of the devotions titles found there are:

One more resource for you today: the Grin and Grow Break that Kathy does several times each week is found here on Facebook. You'll find a short devotion there to start your day.


Also, have you checked out my latest book? It's a great next step for couples.

Classic Marriage: Staying In Love as Your Odometer Climbs

A classic is something of high quality and lasting value. In a marriage there will be hours of maintenance work, tinkering, breakdowns, meltdowns, blowups, cute photo ops, wear and tear, overhauls, memories, vacations, celebrations, and repairs. There will be moments where you haul yourselves back to “the garage” for work. Like a trusty old truck, a classic marriage isn’t perfect, but who can put a price tag on it?


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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

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