Though travel has not been a common household word lately, my email inbox continues to be flooded with travel blogs, airline deals, and invitations to join pilgrimages. For most of the past year, I have deleted many of the emails without opening them, knowing I would be torturing myself if I read them, but lately, I’ve found myself reading about The Best Waterfalls in the US and 9 Destinations You Wouldn’t think to Visit but Should. I spent an hour the other day listening to Peter Greenberg’s latest vlog on Facebook to hear what’s happening in the world of travel.
I’m ready to go. I’m ready to explore. Though we planted a small garden, and I’ve actually taken a mild interest in my flower beds, I’d leave it all behind in a heartbeat.
I’ve been luckier than most because I have traveled in the past year. Ken and I have been to our vacation home in the Rockies twice, and I spent a long weekend with my girlfriends in Arkansas, but I still don’t feel like I’ve been anywhere. I miss my friend, Antonella, in Florence. I miss doing things like exploring the countryside of Sweden or scaling the Acropolis with my daughter or being splashed by the majestic Iguazu Falls in Brazil.
It’s not that I’m bored. I’ve been extremely productive. I’ve churned out four novels in the past year (one was released in December, one is coming in July, and the other two will be future releases). I’m now working on my first piece of nonfiction. Ken and I have remodeled a bathroom, installed new light fixtures in two rooms, redecorated the living and dining rooms, and cleaned out closets. I take a long walk every day and have gotten into pilates. I’m loving life and honestly can’t complain, but I miss all that comes with going places.
I’m counting the days–literally DAYS now–until my girlfriends and I meet up once again. These trips are sacred to me, and I mean that with a literal sense. This group of ladies inspires me, grounds me, encourages me, prays for and with me, and loves me. There is no way a little thing like a pandemic will keep me from being with them.
There will be ten of us (plus a very beautiful baby) squeezed into our Colorado cabin for five days, and I am counting not just the days, but the minutes and the seconds (seriously, these countdown apps are the best)! I need to be with them no matter where we are. For us, it’s not about the travel. It’s about the destination. It’s not a physical place; it’s a place in my mind and in my soul.
Once I return, our family will enjoy the summer. We will crab and fish, watch the sunset and the sunrise from our boat, watch movies on the big screen in our back yard, celebrate Katie’s college graduation, and even participate in Girl Scout Camp (our 19th year). I will enjoy every single second and won’t squander any opportunity I’m given to have fun, enjoy our area, and be with my family, but I will also be looking forward to fall.
In October, God willing, I will embark on my third pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This time, I’m not just a sheep but a shepherd, traveling with thirty pilgrims and sharing with them all that I can about Israel, about the Bible, and about our faith. Every day, I think about the trip. Every day, I pray that all will go as planned. Every day, I think about what it will mean to our group to walk in the footsteps of the Lord. And every day, I try to think of ways to make their experience the absolute best it can be. Again, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the experience of mind, body, and soul.
You see, travel should not be about bragging rights or counting countries or showing off stamps on a passport or even about the places to see. It’s about the experience. It’s about seeing all of the wonders that God has created. It’s learning about different cultures, meeting new people, and gaining immaterial things that can never be qualified.
Without that first trip to Israel, those girlfriends I mentioned earlier would never have been part of my life. We met there in 2016 and formed an unbreakable bond. Without Ken’s work in Italy that allowed us to travel there, I would not have met Antonella, a tour guide who has become a dear friend to me. Without the opportunities we’ve been given, I would never have had the courage to take Rebecca or Katie or Morgan on graduation trips. While the places we went were awesome, it is the little moments of mother-daughter bonding that I remember and treasure the most.
As playwright Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” It’s what we bring back with us when we leave that matters, and I’m not taking about snow globes or refrigerator magnets or decorative plates (though I have plenty of those). Each of my trips has taught me something that I didn’t know I needed to learn. They’ve brought people in my life I didn’t know I couldn’t live without. They’ve brought clarity and awe and special moments that will never be forgotten.
No matter how far you go or how close to home you stay, put travel back into your lives. Make the destination, no matter where it is, a new way of seeing things. Cherish those special moments that just happen. Open your heart and your mind to the possibilities that await if you just take the first step and go…
My next book, The Good Wine, will be available on July 1, 2021 and is available for pre-order! More retailers are being added daily, so keep checking your favorite bookseller to see when you can order your copy. In-person special event launches as well as an online event are being scheduled. Subscribe to my Newsletter to get updates.
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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 follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
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), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).
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