Sweet and Sour – Necessary Ingredients in Life

Morgan in her white coat

There’s just something about this time of year that makes me think of sweet things as well as sour things. Summer is winding down, and fall is quickly approaching. Schools are heading into session, and our youngest daughter has been back in Pittsburgh for just over a week now for her junior year of college, the hardest year for nursing students.

This is the time of year when the lazy days of summer are waning, and the busy fall season begins, the time of year when we start thinking about the holidays. Before we know it, January 1 will be upon us! Hot, sunny days will give way to cooler, blustery ones, and then winter will arrive just before ushering us into spring. Hot and cold, sunny and bleak, sweet and sour.

Bailey and Rebecca

It occurred to me lately that perhaps all of that is why, around this time of the year, may family begins craving lemon-flavored baked goods. I’ve shared with you our favorite lemon cake recipe–a blueberry lemon cake that is out of this world! We’ve been making it for a couple years now, and it’s a winner every time. It’s a favorite of Rebecca’s best friend, Bailey, so I made it when she came over for dinner earlier this summer–her last dinner with us as a single woman. I don’t think the cake lasted an entire twenty-four hours.

What exactly is it that people love about sweet and sour combinations?

To put it simply, sweet and sour is exactly what life is made of–sweet and joyful moments coupled with sour and bitter ones. All of those moments are important. They all matter. As I’ve said before, you can’t experience true joy without feeling sorrow and pain just as you can’t appreciate spring without winter.

I recently read an interview with Yale professor, Laurie Santos, whose course on how to be happy is said to be the most popular class in the school’s history. In the interview, she was asked if she is a happier person because she teaches about happiness. She answered yes, and said, “One of the great things about being the person who teaches a happiness class is that I have to practice what I preach. Otherwise my students will notice and will call me out on it.” I think the question I would have asked is, do you claim that people should strive to be happy all the time? And if so, aren’t they being robbed of a true understanding of happiness?

If your life is a constant state of happiness, are you really living? Or have you enclosed yourself in some kind of happiness bubble? What will happen when the bubble bursts?

I wrote above that our youngest daughter is beginning her junior year, the hardest year, of nursing school. So far, she has seen someone code, nursed a burn victim, and taken care of a transplant patient. This semester, she will be in the OB Ward and then working in Pediatrics. Someone said to me recently that this will be a hard clinical for her (like the aforementioned things were easy) because she will see so many sick babies and children. I was a bit taken aback. Sure, there’s no doubt that Morgan will encounter heart-breaking cases, but then how much more beautiful and joyful those other cases will be! Think of a woman who has trouble conceiving or one who miscarries. Isn’t her joy doubled when she finally gives birth? Her other child or children are not forgotten, but her delight is even greater after experiencing such deep sorrow.

I’m not in any way trying to diminish the sadness or even anguish suffered by those in great physical, emotional, or spiritual pain, but I honestly believe that we have to suffer to experience true happiness. St. Vincent de Paul said, “If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.” There are great lessons to be learned and many things to be gained through suffering, and those gains only increase our ability to feel happiness and joy.

How do you find joy even amidst suffering? Even the simplest things can bring happiness into our lives. I love to carve out some time on the weekends to bake. It makes me feel happy and helps me forget and move past any sad or stressful events of the past week. It helps me ready myself and my home for the week to come. I think this weekend, I’ll make lemon snowflakes. They will remind me that the season is about to change and the cold months are coming, but the holidays are around the corner; that we will go from a vista of bright green and blue and yellow to a palette of brown and orange, but spring flowers will bloom again; and that the events of this world over the past week have been incredibly sour, but the love of my family and my God will always make my life enormously sweet.

May you always welcome the combination of sweet and sour and know that without one, you could never truly appreciate the other.

Lemon Snowflakes

Prep Time: 30 min  | Cook Time: prep: 30 min. bake: 10 min./batch  | Servings: 5-1/2 dozen 


1 package lemon cake mix (regular size)

2-1/4 cups whipped topping

1 large egg, room temperature

Confectioners’ sugar


In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, whipped topping and egg until well blended. Batter will be very sticky.

Drop by teaspoonfuls into confectioners’ sugar; roll lightly to coat. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and tops are cracked. Remove to wire racks to cool.

You will not believe how delicious (and deliciously easy) these cookies are! Enjoy them while they last.

Be sure to catch me next at:

September 18 – Book signing – Abbeyfest in Berwyn, Pennsylvania 11:00AM-9:30PM

October 16-17 – Book signing – Maryland Oyster Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-7:00PM Saturday; 11:00AM-6PM Sunday

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Your Message to the World.

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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 MeWhispering 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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