Can you believe that you are now a college graduate? I still remember your very first day of Pre-K and how excited you were to be a big girl. Well, you are certainly that big girl now, finished school and starting your life as a bona-fide adult!
I just don’t know where the time went. It seems that just yesterday…
You were taking your first steps, learning to ride a bike, and dancing in your first recital. Remember that?
You were so adorable in your little tutu, excited to be on the stage, ready to show off all that you learned. And then when you stepped foot into the stage lights, you froze. You stood in the middle of the stage, and all the other girls danced around you, casting looks at you and at your dance teacher, unsure of what they were to do with you! I think that’s been the metaphor of your life.
You have danced to your tune, or at times, didn’t dance at all if you didn’t feel the music. And many never knew quite what to do with you. And that’s because you never allowed yourself to be put into a box. You retained your uniqueness no matter how much others pushed you to conform.
Oh, there were bumps in the road, times when your father and I said, “Why is she such a follower? It’s only going to get her into trouble.” But we came to realize that we misjudged you. You follow no one. You know what you like, and you don’t care whether or not it’s popular. You know who you are even if others try to make you out to be someone else. You know how to stand up for yourself, and more importantly, how to stand up for others.
You’ve shouldered more than your fair share of heartache, from break-ups to bad grades to being hurt, shunned, and ridiculed, but you fought back. You are stronger today because of the things you’ve endured, and you know, no matter what, you can and will survive.
You’ve never been afraid to try something new. I think you played almost every sport available to you. I remember how much you wanted to play lacrosse and how degrading the coach was. Dad and I thought quitting was the worst thing in the world that you could do, but we’d all had enough, so we relented. And quitting proved to be just right. You went on to other things, and you excelled at them; and you learned a valuable lesson. You don’t have to take that kind of treatment from anyone. I think that was the first time you ever really took a stand against something, but I see now that what we perceived as a stand against was really a stand for. You were standing up for you.
You picked up tennis after that, and you discovered a love like no other. Not only did you love the sport, you found that you love yourself when you play that sport. Yes, you were hard on yourself, and you got into your head many times, but you persevered, and the harder you worked, the more confident you grew, on and off the court. It was a great lesson for you–when you put everything else out of your mind and concentrate on the current match, not the last one and not the next one, you’re at the top of your game.
I think it was playing tennis that made you realize how important it is to live in the present. Okay, I’ll admit, I have a hard time with that philosophy, but you make it work, and I admire that in you. You keep your eye on what’s in front of you and tackle each day one at a time, and it works. You learned all on your own that “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day” (St. Gianna Molla). You are a force to be reckoned with when you’re focused, and that will serve you well as you move onto the next stage of your life.
Speaking of stages, I think that, even more than tennis, is where you really shine, where you find the inner you that most people never have the privilege to see. Your performance as Portia this past spring brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it. Even with a mask on (take that COVID–the show still went on), your stage presence was spectacular. We all said that it was as if you didn’t have the mask on. Your eyes and your body language showed all that needed to be conveyed. Your performance was simply brilliant, and I can’t wait to see what role you take on next both on the stage and in life.
Because let’s face it, your role is about to change. Your responsibilities are about to increase. Your future is a blank slate. Your next match, your next staring role can be whatever you want it to be. Life is one audition after another, a match won and then a match lost, but you’ve mastered both of those feats, and you’ve come out stronger, smarter, and spunkier.
You’ve gone to some dark places, but you’ve always found the light. You’ve been defeated, but you’ve always fought your way back. You’ve been knocked down, but you’ve always gotten back up. All that you have gone through has gotten you to where you are today. As St. Catherine of Sienna said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without enduring much.”
I am so proud of you. I don’t think you will ever know how much I admire you. I’ve often said to you that the two of us, you and I, are so much alike. I see more of myself in you than in either of your sisters, and that’s not always good. I see my positive traits and my negative ones. Sometimes I see it so much that it’s painful because I can feel what you feel. I bet you didn’t know that. Your pain is my pain. But that also means that your triumphs are my triumphs in a small but satisfying way. I can’t bodily share in your actual victories, but I know what you feel and how you feel them in your heart. Your soul echoes mine and mine yours. Never be afraid to come to me, to talk to me, or to cry with me.
As you begin this next act in the performance of your life, remember who you are, from where you came, and to whom you belong. As St. Jane Frances de Chantal said, “Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.” Let God lead you, let Him hold your hand, let Him show you the way. He will never lead you astray. He will never abandon you. And neither will I.
Break a leg, Katie!
With all my love,
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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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Filled With the Holy Spirit.
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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.
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).