I Will Give You Rest

For the past fourteen years, Ken and I have traveled, about once every eighteen months or so, to our shared cabin in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains. It is a refuge for us, a place where we can lie around all day and read or hike through a field of wildflowers or climb into the sky atop a fourteener.

Uncompahgre Peak, elevation 14,308′

Last week, Ken and I spent several days at the cabin, and it was unlike any other time we’ve spent there, beginning with the drive.

Ken wanted to fly; I did not. While I know that the airlines claim they are totally safe right now, and we certainly haven’t heard of any outbreaks related to flight since last March, I didn’t relish the thought of wearing a mask for the multi-hour flight. I preferred to ride in the comfort of our own vehicle. We’ve made this drive many, many times, but never without the girls (and a friend or two) and never without stopping to see the Mitchel corn Palace or the St. Louis Arch, the World’s Largest Concrete Buffalo, the Laura Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota, the Austin Children’s Museum, Dollywood, or dozens of others places we designated as can’t-miss spots along our chosen, circuitous route. This time, we drove as far as our gas tank would take us without stopping, hurrying to use the facilities, practically draining our large bottle of hand sanitizer. We chose campgrounds along the way, judging how much farther we could drive and where that would put us on the map. We pulled in between 9 and 10 at night, hastily set up the tent, slept until just before dawn, and then hit the road again, never making contact with another soul.

Once at the cabin, it seemed so quiet. There were no other people with us asking when dinner was, could they go on a walk, what day were we rafting or horseback riding? It was just the two of us, enjoying the peace and solitude of the mountains. On a few days, we hiked on our mountain. One day, we drove into Lake City (the same Lake City in Summer’s Squall) and hiked to the top of Slumgullion Peak, just outside of town. We were the only people on the trail, and we were treated to one of the most spectacular views of the region.

That jagged peak in the distance is Uncompaghre, the mountain we’re standing on in the picture above.

It was a good week for us, one we really needed in the midst of the chaos of planning a pandemic-era wedding for our oldest daughter. We told friends that this was our calm before the wedding storm, and it was a wonderful chance for us to reconnect with each other after months of being at home with the girls, worrying about everything from getting sick, protecting my parents, trying to find some kind of normal, and choosing wedding dresses and menu items.

We returned with a renewed sense of peace, clearer heads, steadier hearts, and a Father-daughter dance selection. Standing on top of Slumgullion, looking out onto the vast horizon, feeling the breath of God on my face, with no worries on my mind at that moment, I couldn’t help but remember the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns.

“You shall cross the barren desert,
But you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety,
Though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words to foreign men,
And they will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come, follow me and I will give you rest.”
(St. Louis Jesuits)

For months now, many of us have been crossing the barren desert. We’ve felt like we’ve been wandering far from safety, and honestly, we still don’t know the way. We’re all speaking and wondering if there is anyone who understands. But in some way, each of us can find and see the face of God if we but seek Him out. Whether it’s on a colossal mountaintop or in the tiny eyes of a newborn, we can see the face of God and know that He will see us through. He will guide us to safety. He will give us rest.

Colorado Columbine

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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).

Where Two or Three are Gathered…

The past few days have been a blur for Ken and me. We returned from a trip with friends in time to pack up the car and head right back out again. We spent the day driving toward a city almost six hours away where we said goodbye to our youngest daughter after a full day of setting up her dorm, running to the store for last minute things, buying the last of her books, and getting her settled for her freshman year of college. On the way home, we made a quick, late-night stop to see daughter number two and check out the on-campus house where she will spend her junior year. We were exhausted when we pulled into the driveway just after midnight last night, and the house seemed awfully quiet this morning, but we are so happy for all three of our girls as they each begin a new school year (oldest daughter is beginning her final year of law school).

I wish so many things for my girls as they embark on or continue with new chapters of their lives. I wish for good health, happiness, wisdom, and faith. Most of all, I wish them fulfilling, lifelong friendships. We should all be open to new friendships, no matter where we are in life, how old we are, where our career is headed, or what stage of family life we are experiencing. I have seen first-hand how much friendship can change and enhance your life. That was made more clear than ever this past weekend. Read more

Who Are You?

My married name is Schisler, but I will always be a MacWilliams, a Scot by name and blood. Aye, there’s some Irish and Welsh in there, too, but when asked about my ethnicity, my answer is always, “I’m Scottish.” So I was delighted when my daughter, Katie Ann, chose Scotland as one of the destinations on her graduation trip. When our oldest, Rebecca, graduated from high school, she and I backpacked through Europe for three weeks. It is a trip neither of us will ever forget, and one that Katie and Morgan have been planning ever since.

Beginning in England, I took Katie to all the famed tourist stops: London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe, etc. Katie selected three tours: Sherlock Holmes, a day trip to Salisbury, Bath, and Stonehenge, and of course, the Harry Potter studio tour. What fun we had doing all of those things! But our favorite day was the one we spent traveling by train to Windsor. The town was charming, and we loved visiting Windsor Castle. As fans of the PBS series, Victoria, we enjoyed seeing the young queen’s favorite home. All the while, as we toured London and the surrounding areas, I told Katie about how the histories of England and Scotland intertwine. Read more

No Place Like Home

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The Plaza de Espana in Seville

It’s good to be home.  While our family had a wonderful vacation traveling all over Portugal and Spain, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep in your own bed.  It’s even better when you’ve spent the previous two weeks sleeping in other people’s beds in other people’s houses.  Yes, I do mean houses, or apartments in most cases.  Rather than staying in hotels, we spent this vacation renting homes through AirBnB.  My sister-in-law suggested them to us a few years ago, but I was never interested in staying in someone else’s home.  This year, to save money, we decided to give it a try.  My feelings are still mixed, and to be honest, I’m not sure I would do it again, but it was part of the adventure, so I’m glad we gave it a try. Read more

Striking Gold


Our family recently discovered a hidden gem while on vacation in Spain. When we were planning our trip, our oldest daughter discovered a little known city called Merida, between Fatima, Portugal, and Seville. Though it is one of the oldest cities in Spain, it has been only in recent years that Merida has become a destination for tourists. A small, quiet town in southwest Spain, it is the site of several Roman ruins including a coliseum and amphitheater. Like much of Spain, the city comes alive at night when locals and visitors as young as three years of age can be seen playing in the streets and watching futbol in the outdoor bars into the wee hours of the night. Read more

Finding The Way

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Several times in the past month, El Camino de Santiago has come up in conversation among my friends.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, El Camino is a pilgrimage route in Spain.  The Way of Saint James is a series of routes, predominantly taken on foot, along the Pyrenees and Asturias Mountains (though one can also take a route from Seville) leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the burial place of St. James the Apostle.  Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims walk El Camino.  A few years ago, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez brought El Camino to the big Screen in the movie, The Way.  Ever since I first heard about it and subsequently saw the movie, I have wanted to walk it.  Read more

The Family that Travels Together…

Explore. dream, discoverVacation planning time is upon us.  Tis the season when families are cementing their summer plans and dreaming about visiting exotic locales.  Growing up, our vacations always consisted of borrowing a friend’s condo at the beach for a week or traveling with my father on business to places like Dover, New Hampshire or Long Island, New York.  We didn’t go far, but we always had fun.  I’ll never forget the time we stayed at a motel outside of Williamsburg.  I still remember thinking that it had to be the grandest hotel in the world with its strawberry shaped pool and vending machines right in our hallway.  In my mind, it was truly a magical vacation that included stops in Colonial Williamsburg and the now extinct pottery factory, a must-see place for all travelers at the time. Read more

Strangers in a Strange Land

Smithsonian Mag - The Search for Jesus
Our Group of Pilgrims

It was early when we gathered, strangers in a strange land, having flown through the night and disembarked bleary-eyed, yet ready for adventure. A few people spoke; many smiled and nodded in acknowledgement. We shared a purpose, the same excitement and expectations, but were strangers nonetheless. With suitcases in hand, we boarded our assigned buses, most of us now having met three or four others. What would this week bring? How would we get along? How would this land of Moses change us? Read more

Unbound

DSC05175Standing in the Academia Museum in Florence, Italy, in all his glory, is Michelangelo’s David.  Said to be the perfect depiction of the human body, this sculpture is visited by approximately 3 million people each year.  But just around the corner from the statue of the perfect body stand Michelangelo’s non-finito sculptures, the Slaves.  For many years, it was thought that these four pieces of marble were simply unfinished works, but many scholars now believe that the great master purposely left them the way they are to portray man’s struggle to break free of his bondage – perhaps his own internal or perceived shortcomings. Read more

A Whale of a Tale

DSC06345If I were to ask you, or most people, what your favorite animal is, I’m sure you, or most, would answer “cat,” dog,” or other similar such creature.  My children have always thought me a bit strange because I have a great love for (they would call it an obsession with) elephants, sharks, and whales.  Since I was a small child, I have always been fascinated by these three majestic creatures.  When I was very little, I had a small collection of whales – glass figurines, stuffed animals, and such.  As a teenager and young adult, I had quite an extensive collection of elephants – everything from clothes to glass and wooden figures to unique collectibles from around the world (gifts from friends and family).  For Christmas a few years ago, my husband gave me a shark dive in Australia.  It was the most amazing experience ever! Read more