Mountains, Body, and Soul

I took a walk early this morning in the area described in my book, Summer’s Squall. The rest of the family left well before dawn to climb Redcloud and Sunshine, two of the five over 14,000-foot mountains in the San Juan range of the Rockies, where we have a second home. We all climbed Uncompahgre Peak last week, and I’m still plagued by sunburn!

FullSizeRender.jpg-1This morning, I walked with my earbuds in my ears, enjoying Drums of August, the 4thbook in the Outlander series. I listened intently as Clare described the wilds of 18thCentury North Carolina, easily picturing the scene as I, too, was surrounded by vast mountains and an expanse of wilderness.

Though Clare’s words filled my ears, I remained acutely entuned with my surroundings. While it’s not normal to see a bear or mountain lion roaming the dusty roads of the subdivision during the day, it would be careless to discount their presence. After all, the high peaks and plateaus of the Rockies remain one of the last true wilderness areas in the continental US; the land still belonging more to the elk and bobcats than to the few human inhabitants. I saw no people for the majority of my walk, but I did have several neighbors pause their morning meal to watch me as I strolled by, the wide eyes and flick of an ear or tail the only acknowledgment of my passing.

IMG_6699I sucked in the mountain air and breathed the fresh scent of sage and wildflowers. Around every turn was a majestic view. I stopped to admire a patch of purple lupine, our mountain peak looming in the distance. Sage lined the roads and spread across every stretch of ground, perfectly seasoning the deer and elk that will provide the basis of our meals throughout next winter if Ken and his companions are lucky in the fall.

At one point, I looked up and realized just how far I had walked, and how far I still had to go as I gazed across the vegetation and up to a far-off peak, behind which our cabin stood. Heaving a sigh, I continued on. As Clare gave account of the skull she discovered after falling from her horse, I found myself staring intently at the sage I passed, envisioning hollowed eyes and a pointed nose on every pale rock that hid in the underbrush. Tall stems of Indian paintbrush slipped through the fingers of the sage as it FullSizeRender-1reached, like outstretched hands, grasping for the sunlight. Quaking aspen waved to me as I walked, their leaves shaking and shimmering in the gentle breeze and glow of the morning light.

I came to a fork in the road and was suddenly not sure of my location on the mountain. One way would take me back to the cabin. The other…I honestly had no idea. It could lead me back to where I had already been, or it could take me to one of the ranches that claimed vast amounts on woody acreage, where cows grazed and often stood in the middle of the road, uncaring as to whether your car needed to pass. It could also lead to the great expanse of public land where anyone is welcome to hike or hunt, but no houses would ever be permitted, thus preserving this beautiful wilderness.

Hoping my instincts were correct, I turned to the left. I passed more thickets of sage and the tall, white trunks of aspen trees. Wildflowers, some I do not know to name, dotted the rocky ground along the road. As I turned a bend, I stopped and tilted my head back as far as I could, then reluctantly squeezed the last few drops of water from my bottle into my mouth. When the bottle was empty, I lowered my head, and my gaze fell on a familiar sight. Not too far into the distance, I saw the green triangular roof that rose above the lupine and sage, topping the log cabin that was nestled into the side of the mountain. I headed to the cabin, bypassing the main door and walking around to the back deck to take in the view that never grows old. Gazing across to the peak of Cannibal Mountain (which we hiked last week), I took a deep breath and savored the sweet freshness of the outdoors.

IMG_1414.jpegWe have no internet on our mountain, no cell service, and a phone that only calls local numbers, in case of emergency. The television, channels provided by satellite, is rarely on. Whether we are fishing in the lake at the bottom of the road, hiking the tall, round peak of Round Mountain that looms above our cabin, or sitting on the back deck, there is a quiet and peacefulness that cannot be found in my normal world.

I spent just a few minutes basking in the glow of the sun that seems close enough to touch when standing at close to 10,000 feet above sea level. I closed my eyes and enjoyed that quiet peacefulness. Our time in the wilderness will be over in the blink of an eye, and this is a feeling I want to remember, to take back with me when I return to civilization. This moment will have to last and sustain me until the next time we are able to carve out a few days, hopefully a couple of weeks, from our hectic routine to return to the mountains, to refresh our bodies and souls.

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available in stores and online.

 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 Miraclesare all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vineswas awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracleshas 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), Island of Promise(2018).

“With Every Goodbye, You Learn”

This week’s blog was written by my daughter, Rebecca:

When I was in first grade, my best friend was constantly bullied. She had a rare medical condition that made her an easy target for the kids in our class. They were horrible to her, but she taught me what it meant to be a true friend. She brought out something else in me that those other kids would try to take away, but that I would carry with me for the rest of my life. Eventually, we grew apart, and I haven’t spoken to her in years.

When I was in fourth grade, I was the one who was struggling. My teacher saw something in me and challenged me. He was one of those people who you knew you could trust immediately, and he was so kind to all of his students, regardless of their own imperfections. He showed me what a true role model looked like and made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Eventually, I left that school, and I haven’t seen him since.

29468391_10213034314425891_1698012277968888756_nWhen I was in high school, I dated a boy named Scott who would teach me what love felt like. He showed me how great this world could be if I didn’t take myself too seriously and if I always found something to laugh at through every tough situation. He gave me that crazy kind of love that everyone knew wouldn’t last, but he made me feel something I had never felt before. Eventually, we grew apart. He took his own life a few years ago. I hadn’t seen him in years.

During and since college, I’ve lost many friends for a variety of reasons. Some good, some bad, but every single one of them taught me what it meant to be there for someone. Some of them taught me what to avoid in a friend, some of them inspired me to fight for a better version of myself, and some of them pushed me outside of my comfort zone in ways I could never imagine. Many of those friends I haven’t seen in years, either.

I could go on, and on, and on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that this life is full of temporary people.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the people that I’ve lost. Especially in those months following Scott’s death, I didn’t know how to handle it at all. I had gotten over him in a romantic sense, but I always thought that he would casually come back into my life one day. It took me a really, really long time to be able to cope with the fact that I would never see him again, and sometimes it’s still extremely difficult.

In order to overcome these feelings, I took it to prayer. One day, I realized: the most temporary person in the Bible was absolutely one of the most important.

“As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26

potc-300x197As Jesus’ burden of carrying his cross was becoming heavier and heavier, Simon was there. Simon originally had no intention of helping Jesus, and Jesus certainly did not expect Simon to come into his life. Simon knew Jesus for a matter of minutes, but helped Jesus during his most vulnerable time. Simon literally carried the burden for Jesus.

I think we all are destined to have a Simon in life. We are all destined to have someone walk into our lives at the most unexpected moment and help us through burdens we simply cannot bear on our own. God puts temporary people into our lives on purpose. We aren’t supposed to always understand why, and we definitely don’t know when a person is destined to become temporary until they are gone.

As humans, we don’t have to deal with our burdens alone. Sometimes it takes a brand new person to walk into our lives and help us through those burdens. And when that person leaves, only then will we realize how strong, how brave we’ve really become.

With this thought in mind, it’s a lot easier to deal with the fact that I’ll never see Scott again, or that I have no idea what my first-grade best friend’s life is like now, or that I’ll probably never spend time with my college best friend again, or that the teacher who saw something in me that no one else did probably doesn’t even remember my name.

Each of those people came into my life for a purpose, and that purpose just didn’t need to last forever.

Losing people is hard, but knowing that the loss was for a reason helps me keep my faith alive. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the temporariness of the people who shaped me in ways I cannot describe. I don’t think I would be as strong as I am today if those people had stuck around.

I’d give anything to go back in time and see those people again, or to tell them that I love them when I still had the chance. But life doesn’t work that way, and I know now that in this moment, I need to treat every person I come into contact with as if it’s the last time I’ll see them. I need to thank them for helping me in my most vulnerable time and for carrying my burden when I needed it most.

Tell her you love her before you hang up the phone, make plans with your friends every chance you get, tell your professors how instrumental they’ve been, and smile at a stranger today.

Each of these precious moments won’t last forever, but they will shape you.

“And you learn, and you learn, with every goodbye, you learn.” – After a While, Veronica A. Shoffstall

Rebecca Schisler is a rising second-year law student at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. She loves kayaking, hiking, and all things outdoors. In her spare time, she likes learning new cooking techniques and binge-watching Master Chef.

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available in stores and online.

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).