I’ve written many times about my first trip to Israel and the friends I met on that trip who have become family. Since that trip in 2016, we’ve shared many happy times and some sad ones, always leaning on each other and witnessing to our faith. This week, we received the news that we lost a second pilgrim, and the Lord gained a new saint in Heaven. Just weeks after we returned from our sojourn, one of our most beloved pilgrims was killed in a plane crash. He was a veteran who continued to fly missions as a civilian bringing home POWs and MIAs. His loss came as a great shock to all of us. Just as sad, and initially shocking, was the very recent passing of a dear, sweet woman who has been battling cancer since our trip five years ago. The news came two night ago, and my friends and I are in the midst of sending flowers and planning our travel for the funeral that coincides with Hurricane Elsa. I’m sorry, Elsa, but you are no match for the strength of our Frances.
Frances’s passing comes at a unique time for me. My parents have always paid summer visits to our home, with the exception of 2020, and they have been here all week. What makes this trip unique is the duration of their stay. Rather than just a long weekend, they are spending an entire week with our family, and they brought my 15-year-old nephew with them to spend time with my girls. We’ve watched many classic movies that the kids haven’t seen, played cards and games, visited the local maritime museum where Morgan works, stopped into the shop where Katie works, and spent a fair amount of time on the boat. It’s been a wonderful week, and I’m sad to see it coming to a close. Mom and Dad will head home tomorrow night after my book launch, and I will head to Pennsylvania to stay the night with a friend before the two of us drive to New York for the funeral.
While I always enjoy every minute that I am blessed to spend with my parents, the coinciding of these two events gives new meaning to this precious time. We are not meant to waste a single minute of our lives or our time with our loved ones. Frances knew that. My parents know that. I pray that the rest of the my family knows that. Bickering and fighting and petty disagreements should never come between people who love each other, and every day should be faced with courage and strength, joy and peace. Frances taught me that. She taught all of us that.
Another pilgrim from our trip said that Frances “was brave beyond measure” and a woman of “holiness and peace.” Throughout her battle, Frances never lost hope. She never despaired. She never took her eyes off Heaven while making a point to enjoy her every second of her time on earth. She accepted each hospital stay, each treatment, each setback with grace, asking for prayers but never pity. She knew what awaited her at the end of her struggles, and she knew what gifts she possessed here on earth.
I came across this recent post on Frances’s Facebook page. It sums up Frances’s courage, her faith, and her acceptance of God’s will. Even as she faced her final weeks, she knew that God was still working through her, through her example, and through her reliance on and trust in Him.
Like Frances, my father has had more than his fair share of bouts with cancer. Like Frances, he has faced those times with grace and faith, telling everyone that he was praying for healing but putting his life in the hands of Jesus and His Mother. How remarkable it is to have that kind of faith, to believe that no matter the outcome, God’s plan is perfect, and we are to listen, follow, and believe.
As we say our final farewell to a dear friend, I will be smiling. I know that God is welcoming a loving soul and faithful follower. I know that Frances is at rest, no more pain, no more treatments, no more doctors or hospitals. I know that she was loved and loved greatly in return. I know that my life was blessed for knowing her and witnessing her faith.
May we all be blessed with a Frances in our lives, someone like my friend and like my father, someone who shows us what it truly looks like to have faith and trust and know that no matter what happens, everything will be okay. We all need to witness that strength and courage so that when our time comes, and we need that same strength and courage, we will have a model to follow. Frances, my sweet friend, may you spend eternity resting lovingly the arms of the Lord. You will be missed.
Be sure to catch me on one of these dates:
July 8 –The Good Wine Launch Celebration – Scossa Italian Restaurant in Easton, Maryland 6:30-8:30PM
July 17 – Book signing and wine tasting – Simpatico Italian Market in St. Michaels, Maryland 12:30-4:30PM
August 28 – Book signing – St. Mary’s Crab Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-4:00PM
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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).