A Little Rain Must Fall

Gram looking outWhen I was growing up, it was pretty much known by all that my grandmother was a meteorologist. No matter the day of the week or time of day, she always knew what the weather was going to be, and she was always right. Today’s weather forecasters could have learned a lot from her. While we all made fun of Gram, we also understood that weather was extremely important to my family. There were always weather-based questions that needed to be answered. Was it going to be calm on the water that morning while granddad was out crabbing? Was hail going to fall on his crops? Could Gram hang her wash on the line? What would the temperature be when the fresh vegetables were gathered and the livestock taken care of? Their lives literally revolved around the weather, and both of my grandparents were quite adept at reading the signs and knowing what the weather would be like each day.

When Ken and I wake up in the mornings, the first thing I do is reach for the remote control. As we lie in bed and watch the news, we talk about what the day will bring and what our plans are. But neither of us talks when the weather report comes on. Ken knows that I cannot begin my day without first seeing the forecast. Of course, we all know that the forecast is not always what we would like it to be. Over the past several weeks, I have sent up many prayers asking the Lord to let the sun shine down upon graduations, prom/post-prom, and this weekend’s culminating graduation party. I may ask for good weather, but I know that I have to continue to make plans and provisions for whatever the day will hold. As a life-long weather observer, there are several lessons that I have learned from Mother Nature.

Acceptance  While I may pray for good weather, we all know that sometimes it does rain on our parade. What can you do when you’re planning Easter for 50 people and hunting for several hundred Easter eggs and the weather forecast is calling for rain? Rather than wallow in self-pity, you just have to come up with a Plan B. Some years we are racing against the clouds, trying to find every egg before the heavens break open and unleash their torrents of rain. Once, when the kids were very little, we even held the Easter egg hunt in our garage. We improvised. What other choice do we have? The weather is what it is, and just as in life, the sun doesn’t always shine. You make the best of things, and accept your situation, doing what you can to make everything work for the best.

Enjoyment – I have to say that not all bad weather translates to a bad time. Snowstorms, thunderstorms, frigid temperatures, and other things that make it impossible to go outside can lead to great enjoyment inside. There are always movies to watch, books to read, games to play, doughnuts to bake, and many other things that can bring a family together when the weather is frightful. When we were young children, severe thunderstorms became a time for gathering together to say the Rosary. Snowstorms presented an afternoon watching Gone With the Wind or the Wizard of Oz. When my own children were younger, it was a time to introduce them to favorites like Star Wars or the Game of Life. Sometimes, it simply means peace and quiet as everyone reads a book or works on homework.  No matter what we do, we are reminded that time spent together as a family, without the need to go anywhere, is always time to be cherished.

There’s Always a Rainbow – We’ve all heard the saying that in everyone’s life, a little rain must fall. And as young children, we’re all taught to look for the rainbow. It’s not just a silly thing to do or a superstition. Looking for the rainbow is what we should do constantly throughout our lives. Storms will come and go, and we will always need to find a way to get through them. Another thing we’ve all heard is that every cloud has a silver lining. Whatever storms you may be facing in life, know that there is something good waiting for you after they pass. Do not spend your time fretting about the storms. Always be on the lookout for the rainbow.

Plan anyway – And when the storm is predicted, don’t shut down or stop living. Continue to make your plans, and live life as if you’re expecting the skies to be clear. Weather is unpredictable, and often, when we are told that the rain will come, it never appears. Think of all the times that people prepared for hurricanes or blizzards, only to wake up with the Sun shining. We humans never really know what is to come or what the day will bring. Make your plans. Prepare for your cookout. Invite your friends. You never know what the day will bring.

Appreciate the sunshine – Much like looking forward to the rainbow, always remember that while there are dark and cloudy days, there are far more sunny days. Count your blessings, and appreciate the good times. Don’t waste a minute of sunshine. Go outside, lift your face to the sun, and breathe in the fresh, clean air. The bad weather always clears, and the sun always rises.

My grandparents were weather watchers, for sure, but they were also mindful of the little amount of time they had. No matter the weather, life goes on, so don’t let a few clouds ruin your parade. Dance in the rain, bask in sun, enjoy the breeze, watch the lightening, feel the snow on your face. Accept each day, whatever the weather, with the knowledge that it is a gift. And even on cloudy days, let your sun shine for all to see.

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What I was writing about one year ago this week: Finding the Way.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  The Silent Tragedy Affecting Today’s Children;  The Best New Summer Books of 2017; and The Quirkiest Town in Maryland that You’ll Absolutely Love.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

Oh, The Places You’ll Go (to borrow from Dr. Seuss)

Dear Katie,

1999 scrapbook15Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday, I was being rushed into the operating room, Dr. Joe assuring me that everything was going to be okay. You’ve always had a way of doing things like that to us: changing the plot just when we thought we were all on the same page. You were due on March 3, 1999, but apparently, you weren’t ready yet. On March 2nd, Dr. Joe told me that you would not be making an appearance for at least another week. Of course, you do always try to be punctual, so whether my body was ready or not, you were determined to come on March 3rd. And you did.

 

July 4thIt didn’t take long to realize that you had a strong will and an aggressive, but at the same time, sweet personality. You always seemed to be at odds with yourself: shy but gregarious; strong-willed but obedient; inquisitive and skeptical but trusting; outwardly radiant and happy but inwardly scared and insecure. As Winston Churchill said, you have always been “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

 

We watched you go from a smiling, confident toddler to a timid, hesitant little girl. And I began to worry. Tests showed that you are a genius, a child far beyond her years in intelligence but one who suffers from a severe lack of attention and focus. We were told you were an Einstein who would never succeed in school. Over the years, you curled into yourself like the potato bugs that amazed me as a child. We helplessly watched, praying for the right words, the right path on which to find you. What we couldn’t know, didn’t see, was that you were forging your own way. The student who was predicted to never understand math and be a poor reader has mastered Calculus and rarely looks up from a book. The girl who has a hard time opening her mouth in a crowd is a lector at Mass and a key player in school productions. The child we worried would always be a follower is president of one of the largest clubs in school and edior-in-chief of the yearbook.

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DSC03407.JPGYour father and I thought we would spend your life watching out for you, steering you in the right direction, worrying about your every decision. But you’ve taught us to have faith, in God and in you. While we saw dark clouds and ominous skies, you, to quote Louisa May Alcott, were “not afraid of storms, for [you were] learning how to sail [your] ship.” While we saw a path that led into a dark and scary forest, you saw “two roads diverged in a wood,” and you chose the one that “made all the difference” (Robert Frost). As we held our breath and waited for the floor to drop out from under you, you held fast to your dreams, closed your eyes, and took a leap, many leaps, challenging yourself to take the harder class, go for a lead in the play, run for the highest office, and venture into places others dared not go. And you did it all with grace and joy.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen you accept one award after another, smile as the accolades piled before you, and shine for the world to see. On Thursday night, as you march across the stage, know that you can keep marching. No matter what obstacles you face, you will overcome them. No matter how rocky the road is ahead, you will persevere and succeed. Remember that Daddy and I are always here for you. We love you. We know that today and every day is your day. “Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”

Love, Mom

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What I was writing about one year ago this week: A Season for Changes.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  According to Harvard Psychologists: Parents Who Raise “Good” Kids Do These 5 Things from Curious Mind MagazineYou’re Going To Miss It on Beauty Beyond Bones; and 11 Simple Changes I Made to Improve My Writing Habit by Michelle Zunter in The Huffington Post.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

 

Mothers, Daughters, and Memories

Recently, I read an article in a magazine entitled, A Moment in Time: Try Not to Forget. It was the story of Laurel Miff’s visit to London with her grandmother who now suffers from Alzheimer’s. That trip is one of the few memories that Miff’s grandmother still recalls. “Whenever I visit her now,” Miff wrote, “she speaks of how we deftly made our way through the Tube from one London site to another, with barely a moment’s pause to enjoy a cup of tea.” The article brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the wonderful trip my mother and I took to Ireland. We spent our days, from sunup until long after the sun went down, touring site after site in city after city. Some nights, though exhausted, we laughed so hard we thought we might be booted from the hotel. We still love to joke about our Psycho experience in Kilkenny, our favorite town, where the hotel owner, bellhop, cleaning service, chef, and concierge were all the same person. Those eight days are among the most wonderful of my life, and I thank God that we were able to spend that time together.

Four years ago, when Rebecca graduated from high school, she had this crazy idea that a group of her friends and a couple moms (myself included) would drive cross country and back. I say crazy because this was when gas was over $6.00/gallon! Ken laughed and told her that, with all of the frequent flyer mileage he accumulates, he could fly her and me to Europe and back cheaper than she could drive halfway across the country! Well, he didn’t have to say that twice.

Rebecca spent the next couple months planning our trip, based on what she learned in two of her favorite classes: World History and World Geography. Over the course of three weeks, we visited seven countries on a budget of $6000, and no, I did not stay in any hostels. There comes a time, or an age, in life where you have to draw the line! 

We knew that we had opened a real can of worms with two younger sisters eager to follow in our footsteps, but the trip was worth every penny spent then and will be worth what is spent in the future. Rebecca and I created memories that we will both cherish for a lifetime. From walking around the ancient stones of Stonehenge on a chilly, windy day to seeing three different figures of royalty, live and in person (Queen Elizabeth II of England, The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Queen Beatrice of Denmark), to sipping wine and eating escargot at an outdoor cafe in Paris as we watched the passersby, the trip was magical. 

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In a few weeks, Katie and I will embark on our journey. While she has planned a week’s stay in London, we will be using the time there to venture out to places neither of us has seen: Bath, Windsor, Wimbledon, and a few others. We will then visit Scotland (alas, no trip to Craigh na Dun for me) and finish our trip in Iceland. It’s a completely different itinerary as Rebecca and Katie are very different people, but the end goal is the same. It’s a time for mother and daughter to renew our relationship, reminisce about the past, talk about the future, and create memories to last a lifetime.

I can’t figure out where the time has gone over the years of my life and the lives of my children, but I do know that I haven’t let it go by without trying to create as many lasting memories as I can. I cherish every moment I have with my mother as well as every moment with my girls. Sure, we have disagreements, and there are moments of drama, but I can honestly say that cross words are few and far between. I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to have the mother I have and the daughters Ken and I have raised.

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It’s a big world out there with lots to see and do. Take the time to see explore it, and take a friend. I highly recommend your mother, grandmother, or daughter. Create memories that are so good, even Alzheimer’s can’t cause them to fade. And I’ll remember you, my readers, in a few weeks as I sip my scotch and look out over the city of Edinburgh or stare at the volcanoes of Iceland. Raising a glass, I will toast to you, to travel, and to mothers and daughters everywhere.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: A Season for Changes.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  Helicopter Parents Are Raising Unemployable Children by Marcia Sirota of The Huffington Post; Husband’s Confused When Wife Climbs In The Crib. Then, He Learns The Heartbreaking Reason… by Jenny Brown on Shareably; 21 Highly-Anticipated Book Club Reads Coming This Spring by  on the BookBub Blog.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

 

Five Things Mother Taught Me

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, of course, I’d be thinking about my mother. But on top of that, I’ve been staying at Mom’s this week to help out Dad while Mom isn’t feeling well. Spending time at her bedside, I’m reminded of all that she has taught me over the years. Here are the most important things I’ve learned:

6893Strength is not about power. As we are told in the Book of Psalms, “She [a woman of worth] is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come.” Clothed in strength, not exhibiting strength, not showing power or aggression or loftiness, but clothed in strength. That’s quite remarkable when you think about it. Strength and dignity should be what we wear, what we exude, what we show others. It’s more than being strong or powerful. It’s letting others see what you’re made of, but in a dignified way. My mother is not only the matriarch of our family, she is the bloodline that gives us life literally and figuratively, the glue that holds us together, the giver of advice, and the pillar on which we lean. Everyone thinks that my father is the strong one, but, like the rest of us, all his strength comes from Mom. It always has.

15732720_10154924178131349_440735058246395734_oLove has no bounds. St Paul tells us that “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen (1 Corinthians 13: 7-8). No truer words could be spoken about my mom. She loves her family fiercely and would do anything for them. The same can be said for her friends. My love for my family and friends is a direct reflection of the love she has always shown to me and my brothers. It’s a love without end, without restraints, without jealously. I think that the simplest way to describe the love that my mother gives is that it’s a direct reflection of the Father’s love for us.

Every person deserves love and mercy. Everyone has that friend, the one that nobody can figure out exactly why you are friends. They seemingly have nothing offer, and perhaps they aren’t even that good a friend in their treatment of you or others. There have been times when my mother has mentioned one person or another, and I’ve wondered, “Why do you even put up with them?” But I know what her response would be. In life, it matters not what someone can do for you. Sometimes, all that matters, is what you can do for them. There are some people in this world who, through no fault of their own, need you more than you need them. And I’m not talking about handouts or such. Some people have nobody else to talk to, no shoulder to lean on, no one to whom they can vent, nobody to pray for them. Sometimes we need people in our lives to show us that things could be worse or that we shouldn’t take anything for granted or from whom we learn to be merciful. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5: 7).

Move Heaven and Earth for your family. No matter what she has going on, no matter how busy she is, my mother will let nothing stop her from being with her family. Aside from God, family is all that really matters. That’s why there was no question, when I received word that Mom was being admitted to the hospital, that I was going to pack my things and make the two-hour drive to be there for her and for Dad. It’s the least she would have done for me or my brothers or her own siblings. We are told, “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith” (Timothy 5:8). My mother is the most perfect example of providing for her family, all family, whether they are actually related to us or not. I pray that I am able to follow her example.17884100_589736467897030_5760503867601997137_n

Be the embodiment of Christ’s light. Jesus told us, “You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 14-16). My mother is certainly the light of Christ for all to see. She is patient, loving, kind, humble, sincere, honest, and trustworthy. She puts everyone else before herself and gives without asking for anything in return. If I can be half the person my mother is, emit just a single beam of the light she radiates, then I will have become the best person I can be.

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Can’t you see Mom’s glow in this photo with her friends?

DSC_7689.JPGSo to all mothers everywhere, but especially, my own, happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for providing your strength, showering us with your love, showing us how to treat others, being there for your family at all times, and radiating the light of Christ for all to see, an example to us and the world. I love you, Mom.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: The Family that Travels Together.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  I Never Wanted to be a Helicopter Parent. But I Am. by blogger, WonderOak; Why kids today are out of shape, disrespectful – and in charge by Leanne Italie in The Wichita Eagle; 18 New Historical Fiction Novels to Read with Your Book Club by  on the BookBub Blog.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

Eight Books You’ve Never Heard of for Summer 2017

I like to read. A lot. That is to say that I like to read very much, and I read a lot. I have so many lists of books that I practically have books of lists. Every morning, I log into an inbox full of book suggestions from listservs, publishers, booksellers, and friends. I tuck all of them away in folders in my email. Once a week, I go through the list and order as many as I can from the library. What I can’t order, I buy. I’m sometimes criticized for using a Kindle reader instead of holding actual paper books between my fingers, but honestly, how else am I going to take a dozen books on vacation with me? I once packed a whole extra suitcase of books. Have you seen the prices for extra suitcases these days?

Anyway, as I said, I like to read. No, I love to read. And I love receiving suggestions as to what to read. So as payback for the many suggestions I receive, I thought I’d put together a short list for you to get your summer reading underway. All of these are new, or new to me, authors with books I’ve read lately* and recommend for your reading pleasure, depending upon your reading mood.

For a sentimental read – Sunflowers in a Hurricane by Anne M. Faye

A mystery that will keep you guessing – Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

A paranormal romance, light on the paranormal, but heavy on the romance – The Dreamer by Alexa Jacobs

For some light-hearted, romantic fun with a delightful story – Two Doctors & and a Baby by Branda Harlen

A romantic suspense that surprised me – Luxury Model Wife by Adele Downs

For the history buff – Church of Spies by Mark Riebling

For adventure, culture, history, overcoming hardship, romance, and expanding your intellect, this one has it all – The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Okay, a shameless plug for a beach read I hope you’ll love – Island of Miracles by Amy Schisler

*disclaimer – some of these were books I judged for the Romance Writers of America romance fiction contest, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were!

What I was writing about one year ago this week: The Smell of Sunshine.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  18 New Historical Fiction Novels to Read With Your Book Club by Chanel Cleeton on BookBub; 7 Challenges Successful People Overcome by Dr. Travis Bradberry, author Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)