Just Thinking About Tomorrow

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When I was a little girl, I attended my first major Broadway musical and spent the following few weeks memorizing every word to every song.  I’ve never stopped singing those songs and enjoyed watching Rebecca and then Katie play roles in school and community productions of the same play.  As a child, I’m not sure I realized how many lessons I was learning cast-001from the little orphan girl who took in a stray dog and softened the heart of a grouchy, old millionaire, but I have always remembered and adhered to her words “the sun will come out tomorrow.”

As I watched the morning news on Saturday, I saw updates on the terror attacks in Mali, new terror threats to Brussels, and sparring politicians across this great nation.  But here is the thing that struck me the most – the people of Paris gathered in the streets this past weekend for a public street party to show the world that they will not stay home, that life goes on.  Almost fifteen years after 9/11, we can all attest to that.  Things change, people are lost, the world is shaken, but the sun still rises, and human beings continue living, striving for the best, reaching for the stars, and living the good life as best they can.

For every eight people who leave this world, there are nineteen babies born.

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There are approximately 13,000 terror attacks somewhere in the world each year, but 2.3 million weddings per year take place in the US alone.

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Somewhere in the world today, a child is having a birthday party,

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a school is welcoming grandparents,

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multi-generational families are giving thanks,

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a group of friends are worshiping together,

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a family is taking home a new pet,

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a farmer is tending to his field,DSC02490-001

and a concert is being attended.

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People are still climbing to new heights,

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steering toward the goals,

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breaking new strides,

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and celebrating their achievements.

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And every single night, we go to bed with the knowledge that no matter what happens in the world, the sun will come up tomorrow.

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What is the Answer?

DSCN6495Let me begin by saying that this is not a political commentary. I think of it as a public introspection, a searching for answers where, perhaps, there is no real answer. I have always tried to act compassionately, to put others needs before myself. I am a passionate defender of the unborn, a believer in the dignity of all human life, and volunteer for social and humanitarian causes; yet today, I find myself at a crossroads. My heart and head are at odds, and I don’t know that there is anyone out there who can help me find the right answers to my questions.

First, I am a student of history and a firm believer in the adage that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I also believe that we are currently embroiled in the Third World War. While it is a war of weapons, it is also a war of ideology, not unlike the Cold War during which I was raised. It is a war of name calling, of hatred spewing, and of closed hearts and minds as much as it is a war of physical mass destruction. We are witnessing what our grandfathers and great-grandfathers witnessed with the aggression of Hitler, yet we have no single name to attach to this threat, just an ideology. How do we fight against an aggressive ideology in which nobody knows who the real enemy is?  For I do not believe that the enemy is all Muslims.

I’ve known people of Muslim descent and practicing Muslims, and I know that they are not bad people. They are peaceful people who do not subscribe to the beliefs of those such as ISIS; so I wonder, as we’ve all heard others say many times, why do they not speak out? I’m not talking about those in war-ravaged countries or those who are under constant threat or surveillance, but those who are free to stand up and say “this is not right, this is not what we believe.”  There are few places like Jordan, where all religions are welcome and where many of the current refugees have been able to flee; so where are the rest of the Muslim countries and their leaders?

During WWII, we brought in refugees from Europe, but we chose those who came. We did not open our doors to every person in Europe who wanted to flee the war. Was that right?  I don’t know.  But I do know that, on the contrary, we made sure that their homeland was safe for people to continue living secure, healthy, fulfilling lives. Those who say that was different and that we shouldn’t interfere with what’s going on in Syria or Iraq or any of the ISIS controlled countries, please tell me how is it different? How were the victims of WWII any different than those being persecuted today? Why wouldn’t we want, for our sake as well as theirs, to contain the threats in their lands and make their homeland safe for all people?  Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, just yesterday, questioned why we are bringing people here who could be fighting for their homes.  Because they have families?  So did our Pop.

And what are our leaders here and throughout the West supposed to do?  How can we help these refugees when we have those here at home who we are unwilling or unable to help – our poor, our homeless, our Veterans? We have approximately 50,000 homeless Veterans in our country. How do we look at them and say, we cannot give you food and shelter, but we can give it to people from the region where you put your very life at risk?

Pope Francis recently said that “refugees are more than statistics; they are children of God, each with his or her own inherent dignity.” My heart breaks over this, for I believe it to be true to the bottom of my soul. So where does that leave us? Where are we to find the resources to care for these people when we cannot care for our own? For it is not simply a matter of security. It is a matter of human dignity.  Does that mean that we are to take care of everyone (Whatsoever you do to the least of my people… Mat 25:45), or do we help them to help themselves (let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Eph 4:28)?  What is the right thing to do?

As far as security, our country has the strictest vetting process of any country in the world, yet our own intelligence officials have said that we can’t even come close to a guarantee that the process works. The attacks that have taken place on our own soil were, for the most part, homegrown terrorists (Boston, Oklahoma City, the first World Trade Center bombing). The perpetrators of 9/11 were here legally, so how well does the system work? Threats to our nation and our citizens can come from anywhere. Three of the Paris terrorists were French Nationals. How do we ever know if we are safe?

So again I ask, what is the answer? Where do we go from here? All sides will never agree. The only thing I know for sure is that leaders around the world need to take their heads out of the sand and recognize what the real problem is, the root of everything that is going on.  There is an ideology (again, I won’t call it a religion – this isn’t the religion of Muhammed that we are fighting), but an ideology that hates the West and is determined to spread their hate throughout the world, destroying everything its path.  Unless we strike at the root of the problem, nothing will be solved, no questions truly answers, no lives left to uphold with dignity.  Which leads me back to the question of humanity.  The questions swirl around and around in a vicious circle that truly never ends.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online.  Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.  Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Be Thankful

DSC09204-001Here we are in the month of November, the one month of the year when everybody seems to be grateful for something – actually 30 somethings – one new thing every day.  While I applaud the effort of those truly trying to show their gratitude, I find myself wondering every year, are these people thankful for these things all year long or just when they can post it on Facebook for all the world to see?  Do any of us really understand what it means to be grateful?  Are those petty little things actually the things in life for which we are the most thankful?  Why do we take so much for granted, whether that means appreciating something just once a year or never giving it a thought at all?

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in Cartagena, Colombia (I’m grateful for business trips to exotic places and for frequent flyer mileage).  While we were there, we took an excursion that led us off the beaten path IMG_1439and through a rural landscape that revealed poverty the likes of which I have never seen, and I’m sure few people in this country could imagine.  We recently began sponsoring a young boy in Colombia, and I cried when I looked at the huts outside of my window and pictured him living in one of them.  We asked if we could send him shoes or clothing, and we were told no because it might cause him harm to have things that nobody else has.  How sad, how tragic to think that a simple pair of shoes is too much for a person to even hope for.

I read somewhere recently that our families are getting smaller while our houses are getting larger.  We have accumulated more “stuff” than any generation before us, yet with all that people have, there are those who are still crying for more.  Even the poorest people in our country have more than those in 3rd World nations, yet the ones we saw last weekend are out there working hard every day trying to feed their families while here, over 1/3 of the US population is on welfare.  So many of us drive around in luxury cars without a care in the world while approximately 50,000 of our US Veterans are living on the streets.  We can all find time to go to Disney World, but 85% of nursing home residents never have anyone visit them.

Hey, listen, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to buying things I don’t need, eating more than my share, taking for granted all that I am blessed to have.  All I ask is that every United States citizen stops and takes a minute to think about all that they have and how lucky they are to live in a land where we have the ability to run to the store for milk, shop whenever we want new clothes, or even just change our shoes when our feet get sore.  Be grateful that you have family and friends, that you have a home and means of transportation, that you have the freedom to worship, work, and play however you please, and that there are men and women standing guard at night while you’re asleep making sure that you can wake up tomorrow and still have all of those opportunities.

We are among the lucky ones.  Remember, not just today, but every day to thank God, your parents, your teachers, and our military for all of the sacrifices they have made for you.  It’s not about the cars and houses and material things.  It’s about the life you live and those who are a part of it.  Smile and be thankful – every minute of every day.

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Special thanks on this Veteran’s Day to my father, Richard; my father-in-law, David; our friend, Nick; and my nephew, Ty for their service to our country.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online.  Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.  Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Listing for Love

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001I am a list maker.  I’ve been a list maker since I first learned to write and realized the magic that accompanies crossing off things accomplished.  Sometimes, the more I cross off, the more I add to my list. I’ve had a list on my desk for about a month now that lays out all that I want to accomplish this fall.  My Katie laughs when she reads it because one item is “Write a book.”

“You’re always writing a book, Mom, but that’s so cute.”

Yes, I’m always writing a book, but to see it on a list makes it real, makes it something that must be done and must be crossed off.  It’s a means to an end.

When I graduated from college, my best friend and I sat down and wrote lists.  They weren’t lists about what we wanted to accomplish in life or what our goals were for our twenties or beyond.  We had those lists already, and they were getting longer and longer by the day.  No, just for fun, we wrote lists of what we were seeking in the perfect guy.  It began as a joke, a way of blowing off a steam about the fact that we were now four years older, four years more experienced and worldly, four years wiser, and still single.  But as we compiled the list, we grew more serious, each of us reading each other’s lists and critiquing, improving, and offering further suggestions.  After all, who knows you better than your best friend?

Within a year, I was engaged, and within a couple of years after that, so was she.  I still credit that list with helping me focus on whom and what I wanted because, miraculously, when I met Ken, I was able to cross off all 25 things on the list, not 20 or 24, but all 25.  Not everything on the list is as important to me today as it was then.  Half of the things probably wouldn’t even make it if I had to write it all over again.  One of the things was that I needed a man who would change with me as I grew older, who could adapt to any situation.  That was near the bottom of the list, but well over twenty years later, I see that it should have been at the top.

So if I were telling my daughters to write their own lists (and no, I’m not doing that because this list is not a game – it’s a serious, what I want for the rest of my life list), but if I were telling them to write their lists, here are the things I would recommend they put at the top:

  1. He must be adaptable to any situation with the realization that life isn’t a long, superhighway.  It’s a twisting, turning, up and down hills and mountains, country road with surprises around every bend.  Be ready to change course and handle the wrecks along the way.
  2. He must share some of your interests but must also have interests of his own.  While you should share the most exciting adventures together, it’s okay to do things apart; in fact, it’s a must.
  3. He should not say “I love you,” within a month or even two, and when he says it, he needs to look you in the eye and say it from the heart.  Those three words should be the most important words he ever says to you.  They need to have true meaning and depth.  They are not a way to get you in bed or make you feel special.  They are the three words that he should tattoo on your heart and his and be willing to put them into action every day for the rest of your lives.
  4. He needs to dance.  He doesn’t have to like or be good at it, but he needs to be willing to do it.  You should not be that one person who, at every wedding (and by the time you write this list, there will be wedding, after wedding, after wedding) or at every family party, dances with friends to every fast song and then sits by his side and watches everyone else dance the slow songs.  It’s during the slow songs that your bodies communicate, and it’s during the fast songs that you let loose and have fun.  Do it together. Even if he looks like he’s the star in a Steve Martin movie.
  5. Watch him carefully when he is with his mother.  The old saying is so very true, how he treats his mother is how he will treat his wife.  Is he kind to her?  Respectful?  Helpful?  It’s okay if he complains about her a little.  In fact, that lets you know that he’s not still hanging onto the apron strings.
  6. Never make him choose between you and his mother unless you are certain that he will choose you.  If he won’t, then stop here.  You don’t need to look at anything else on the list.  BUT be careful about what you are asking him to choose because his mother will become your mother.  Treat her as such.  You will find that you will need her someday when there’s no better ally than her to have on your side.
  7. He must pay for that first date, and the second, and even the third.  If he’s worth a fourth, then maybe you can treat, but don’t insist or overdo it.  A true gentleman expects to pay.  It’s a matter of respect.  If he doesn’t want to impress you, then what’s the point?
  8. He must care about how he looks.  This isn’t about vanity.  It’s about respect.  If he doesn’t have respect for himself and the way he appears to others, then he won’t have respect for you.  Of course, if his phone is full of selfies, or he can’t stop glancing in the rearview mirror to check his hair, then ask him to stop the car and let you out.  Walk away, and never look back.
  9. Your family must be as important as his.  Do not let him or his family make every decision concerning your social calendar.  If he won’t spend time with your little sisters (even when they’re being bratty), then he will never be a good brother-in-law or father.  If he dates you, he dates everyone in your family and must be willing to accept and spend time with them.
  10. Most importantly, he must be kind.  To you, to your family, to his family, to your friends and his, to his colleagues.  He shouldn’t be a pushover or passive aggressive, but genuinely kind.  He must always think about others, especially you.  “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” St. Basil

So there’s your start.  Your list will be longer and will include trivial things like “Must listen to _______ music,” and “Doesn’t eat all of the popcorn,” and that’s okay.  You will have to live with this person for the rest of your life.  Have fun, but think it through, and when you’re finally able to cross everything off, you will feel more than accomplishment.  You will feel completion.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online.  Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.  Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.