A REAL Boyfriend…

A few days ago, my oldest daughter shared a photo she saw on Facebook in an effort to get the word out that this is NOT what we should be teaching our sons and daughters. The photo read:

A REAL BOYFRIEND:

  • Calls you for nothing.
  • Texts you all the time.
  • Wants to see you.
  • Gets jealous.
  • Is overprotective.
  • Loves you.

 I was sickened by the message that this sends, and I have not been able to stop thinking about the harm that some of these sentiments could do to young people. So, here is my list, based on my own experience and observations, of what a REAL BOYFRIEND is:

  • A real boyfriend loves you for who you are, inside and out, and takes the time to get to know the true you.
  • A real boyfriend is willing, and even happy, to wait for marriage to have sex. It’s about more than religion, though I consider a religious basis a strong one. It’s about fidelity, commitment, self-worth, dignity, and mutual respect. 
  • A real boyfriend does amazing things like hand-carry an entire hand-painted 12-place-setting china set, complete with all of the accessories, all the way from Poland to the US because they reminded him of you; and he knew you’d love them even more than the set you picked out at the china store.
  • A real boyfriend is your best friend, your confidant, your go-to person. He is there for you to share your wildest dreams, your darkest secrets, and your silliest moments; and he’s not afraid to let you and the world know that you are special. 
  • A real boyfriend builds you up, never tears you down, keeps you grounded without stifling your dreams, and talks you through your problems, helping you solve them in a way that will enhance you and your life.
  • A real boyfriend is happy for you when you spend time with your friends. He does not constantly ask whom you are with or what you are doing. He trusts you. He encourages you to have friends who make you happy and help you to grow. 
  • A real boyfriend enjoys spending time with you and doing the activities that you like to do. He recognizes that a relationship is a give and take and that you should both make an effort to do things that make the other happy.
  • A real boyfriend is there to hold your hand when you are sick, comfort you when you are sad, and calm you when you are afraid. He does not add to your sadness or fears, but helps you deal with and overcome them.
  • A real boyfriend loves God more than he loves you and works with you to live a life that is holy.
  • A real boyfriend, who plans to be with you for life, knows that love means being at your side even when you no longer know he’s there or no longer know who he is.
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    Authentic love is what we will remember this Friday, that Jesus loved us so much, He gave His life for us.
  • A real boyfriend understands that authentic love is unconditional and self-giving. It is sacrificial. It asks constantly, “What can I do for the love of the other?” John 15:13 tells us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  To sum it up, you have to look no further than the writings of Saint Paul:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-8

May you all have a blessed Easter.

Did you hear Amy’s guest appearance on Danielle Bean’s Girlfriends Podcast? Check it out

What I was writing about this time last year:  All That Stuff & 5 Things It Taught Me

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

Let Your Light Shine Through

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Did you know that paintings, statues, windows, etc were first put in churches to teach the illiterate about Christ and the stories in the Bible. How ingenious is that?

The main church in our parish has many, beautiful, stained-glass windows, depicting various scenes from the Bible from the Annunciation of Jesus’s conception to His Resurrection and almost every important event in between. There are windows around the altar bearing the images of several saints.  If you know anything about St. Francis and the history of the Church, you know how important these types of additions to the church building can be.

At our main parish church, we have these beautiful windows that, when the sun shines through them, bring us right into the stories they tell. They are awe-inspiring. But on Monday night, as I sat next to Ken at a Lenten penance service, I noticed something about those windows. When there is no light shining through them, they are nothing more than dark, meaningless, colorless shapes. They portray nothing more than interwoven shapes with no faces, no detailed landscapes, no recognizable places or people. And that got me thinking…

Is that what I look like when I’m not letting God’s light shine through? Am I nothing more than a dark, meaningless, colorless person? Are my features nothing more than blank, unrecognizable spaces? When I’m letting my fears, my hopelessness, or my despair run my life, do I look like an inanimate, two- dimensional being?

And doesn’t it go even deeper than my personal physical appearance? Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). We aren’t meant to block the light, to walk around in the throes of gloom and despair. We are meant to be a people of joy! We are meant to share our time and our talents, to serve others, to live a joy-filled life. Sure, there will be bad times, and times when we don’t feel like smiling or serving others. Even the day must succumb to the night.

But remember that there is always a dawn, a chance for the sun to shine (yes, I know there hasn’t been much sun along the East Coast in weeks), but all gloom and despair and darkness will subside. Somehow, even in our darkest times, we must reach down deep inside and lift off the bushel basket. And isn’t that what we should all be working toward during Lent, as we move from the desert, into the night’s garden, through the Crucifixion, and to the radiance of the Resurrection? Like those windows that shine brilliantly with the sun, revealing exquisite details and bringing to life the stories of Christ, we, too, are meant to shine with the glory of God. “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).

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Father Nash begins a baptism, surrounded by stained glass windows throughout our church.

Did you hear Amy’s guest appearance on Danielle Bean’s Girlfriends Podcast? Check it out

Are you looking for a new way to meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent? If so, check out the newly revised edition of Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms. You can download the ebook version today!

What I was writing about this time last year:  Becoming the Learners

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

Unconditional Love

Dear Daughters,

The past several months have been wrought with changes, good and bad, and events that will shape you and your future. From graduations to new schools to the loss of your grandfather, you have been met with joys and sorrows, forced to make decisions and changes, and been led to greater awareness and understanding about yourselves and the world around you. And what a world it is. 

You live in a very different world than I did when I was your age. While we had many of the same social issues, you have far more challenges to deal with–from the constant barrage of social media to mass shootings. Sometimes I wonder how you deal with it all. And then I remember that sometimes you don’t. According to the 2018 Culture and Youth Studies Group, your generation, in the United States alone, comprises 25% of the total population. The number one killer of your generation is the automobile, and most of these deaths are due to drinking and driving, Suicide is the third leading cause of death of your demographic. Perhaps, in part, because one in five students is bullied in school, and between 20 and 25% of students have been cyber-bullied. Students today are exposed to just under eleven hours of media exposure every single day. And that’s only the beginning.

I can’t even imagine growing up with the same pressures you all face. It’s no wonder 34% of all 19-28 year-olds use drugs, and 52% of 12-28 year-olds regularly drink alcohol. And as a parent, I feel helpless to do anything about that or any of the above statistics. Utterly helpless. And that’s what leads me to this.

I’m not sure that any of you fully know or even vaguely recognize the agony that your parents go through every time one of you walks out the door. We can teach, lecture, advise, etc, but we can’t control your thoughts or actions nor those of your peers. And that’s really scary! You have no idea what it’s like to hug you, tell you we love you, wish you the best, and then hold our breath as the door closes behind you, anxious about every phone call, every text, every breaking news report. 

Each day, you are faced with a new challenge, a new set of decisions, a new obstacle or fast-track to becoming the human beings you are going to become. Every day, you have to decide what you are going to do, who you are going to be, where you are heading in life. It’s a daunting task! And all I can do is hold my breath and pray. I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t matter what kind of family you come from, what you’ve been taught by your parents, or what you’ve witnessed over the course of your short lifetime this far. All that matters is what you decide is the right decision for you at each moment in time. 

So, I remind you today how much your father and I love you all, how much we trust you to make the right decisions throughout your life, and most importantly how much we will love you even if those decisions are not the ones we hope you will make. As Dr. Seuss told us, “You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.” But still, we will pray and hope and love you unconditionally. Isaiah asks us in today’s reading, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” And the answer, on my part, is no. No matter what happens in this world, so filled with darkness and despair, know, my daughters, that my love will never change, never falter, never grow weary. In fact, I love you all more each and every day.

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Are you looking for a new way to meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent? If so, check out the newly revised edition of Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms. You can order it in print or download the ebook version today!

What I was writing about this time last year:  The 9 Most Important Things I’ve Learned at 47

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

 

Professionalism Gone Awry

imagesIs it just me, or is the world of professionalism taking a decidedly non-professional turn? Several times in the past couple weeks or so, I’ve witnessed a breakdown in the level of professional courtesy. And I’m not just talking about at restaurants or in the grocery store, though some of those places have their issues with professionalism as well (remember when the customer was always right?). I’ve seen and heard people at pretty high levels of businesses or organizations treating colleagues and customers with a disturbing lack of respect.

It seems that everywhere, from local mom and pop businesses to national organizations and even professional writers’ groups, there is a dire need for education in how you treat or speak to people. Last week, I received an email about an upcoming training for a particular organization that was so snide and condescending, I had to go back and reread it, trying to see if I was taking it out of context or with a bias to the situation. Sadly, no, the problem was not a misunderstanding of the tone of the email, which can happen so easily with technology these days, but with the actual words that were used. There is no doubt that it was meant to be snide and condescending. Point taken. But did they really have to go there?

Elsewhere, I witnessed someone asking a question about a professional writing project that is in the process of being put together. The answer given, to the perfectly harmless and totally understandable question, was as kind and helpful as a slap in the face. Was that really necessary? Is it too hard to kindly answer a question that others may also be wondering? One can certainly be assertive and frank while still being tactful, can’t they?

I’m at a loss as to how to explain the shift that I see happening more and more these days. Is it social media? Loss of moral education? Fewer liberal arts colleges which typically require classes in ethics? Too many exhausted parents who just don’t have the time or the desire to teach politeness? Politicians, athletes, and other celebrities who are rude and crass and don’t stop to think or even care that they are role models? Is it just that we’ve become so self-centered as a people that we really don’t care anymore how we treat others? 

I recently came across a blog that gives a list of what the writer sees as tantamount professional behavior. A similar list can be found in a newspaper article I read online. I agree with everything on these lists, but I’d like to take it a step farther. While the newspaper article wraps up the list with the advice, “Set good examples…within your organization,” I say that’s not enough. Professionalism begins with everyday, ordinary kindness, and that begins at home. I vow to make a renewed effort to set good examples at home. I will try to always speak to my children with kindness; say please, thank you, and you’re welcome to everyone; show respect to all others; take responsibility for my actions; and never say something rude or hurtful to anyone. I will insist that my children work to do the same. I hope that you will all take that vow with me. I’d like to think that we are just one generation away from returning civility, kindness, and professionalism to all aspects of our lives.

Are you looking for a new way to meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent? If so, check out the newly revised edition of Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms. You can order it in print or download the ebook version today!

What I was writing about this time last year:  Becoming the Learners

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)