How Do You Measure A Year?

DSC08677.JPGOne year ago this week, Ken and I received the news that we were chosen to go to the Holy Land with a group of pilgrims.  As excited as we were, we had no idea how life changing that trip would be.  To see the places about which we’ve only read or heard, to walk in the footsteps of our Lord, to stand on the shores of the Jordan River and inside the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher were things that we never imagined being able to do.  To top it all off, we made new friends, some of whom have become among the closest friends we have.  It’s amazing to me, when I look back over the course of this past year, that one year ago, I had never been to Mount Tabor.  I had never looked down at the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.  I didn’t know George or Tammi or either Anne.  I had never met Bianca or Mary Ann or either Michelle.  How different my life was just a year ago.  And that got me thinking…

How different are all of our lives from just a year ago?  In the past twelve months, I’ve attended graduations, weddings, christenings, and funerals.  I’ve seen my girls go from being just “in high school and college” to being Seniors about to graduate and move on.  I’ve traveled to new places and returned to old favorites.  In June, I published my third novel, and within a few weeks, I will be publishing another. 

As the song asks, “how do you measure a year?”  Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days.  That’s how we think about a year: a long, drawn out collection of days.  But 365 is a small number that is gone in the blink of an eye.  It sounds like a lot – five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.  But in less than a year, a baby is conceived and then born, a wedding is planned, a school year is completed and another started, a fine wine ages, a house is built and occupied.  And we look back and say, “where did the year go?”  How does time get away from us so easily?

So as you begin to think about your New Year’s Resolutions, think about the past as well.  Think about all that you did in the past year, the people you met, the places you visited, the things you accomplished.  And think about the minutes that got away from you, the tasks left unfinished, the goals left unmet.  Don’t think of the future as long and drawn out.  Think of it as short and fleeting.  Make the most of every day, every minute.  There’s much to be seen in the world, many new people to meet, and a lot to be accomplished.  And the reality is, there is never enough time in which to do it.  But there is enough time to enjoy life.  I urge you to start today.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her most recent book, Whispering Vines, is available for purchase; and her next novel, Island of Miracles, will be released in January of 2017.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

Be Not Afraid

My SSPP GirlsYesterday, some friends and I were talking about how hard it is raising children in today’s world.  As mothers, we all worry about our children.  Will they make the right decisions, meet the right people, find the right job, make it to school or work and back safely, be safe at school or work, survive to be an adult, a parent, a grandparent.  It’s a constant state of worry.  Worry like that can be crippling, immobilizing, even life-threatening.  So what’s a mother to do?

We all came to the same conclusion.  It’s not a perfect one, but it’s all we can do.  We have to hope for the best, put our trust in God, and love our children fiercely every day.  We can’t lock our children in a tower (that never works in Fairy Tales), and we can’t live our lives in constant fear, nor do we want to teach our children to live their lives in constant fear.  We want them and ourselves actually LIVING!  So we have no other choice but to teach them right and wrong, instill in them a solid set of values and morals, and pray for them every day.

Looking back, every single bad decision I’ve ever made in my life, whether as a child, a teen, or an adult, was made out of fear.  What if they don’t like me?  What if he won’t love me?  What if I don’t do that, say that, try that?  The question was always based in fear, and the decision was always disastrous, if not then, than later down the road.  However, every decision I ever made with confidence that it was the right thing to do, was made with complete trust – trust in friends, my loved ones, my husband, God.  And those decisions have never come back to haunt me.

Years ago, Ken and I were at a crossroads in our lives.  Our children were attending a school that they hated.  I had to forcibly put Katie on the bus every day and jump off as the bus driver closed the door while Katie cried and pounded on the windows.  She was eight years old, not a young child, and the knowledge that she was so unhappy was heart-breaking.  It was my first year staying at home and attempting to become a published author when Ken decided to leave his job.  The position had created so much stress for him that I feared for his health, but what would we do?  After a few months, our small savings was almost gone and we had three children to feed.  While we were talking over the situation one night, my husband had the craziest idea, and I mean crazy.  He said to me, “You’ve always wanted them in Catholic school, so maybe it’s time.”  I looked at him like he had lost his mind.  “We have no money, no jobs, and no way of knowing what our future holds, but you want to put all three girls into a private school thirty minutes from our home?”  He said yes.  But how?

We went to the school the very next day and talked over our situation with the principal.  She had known us for years from church and was thrilled that we wanted the girls there.  She was willing to take our applications and hold spots for them until we figured out what we were going to do.  It was March, so we had several months before school started, but we needed a plan, or even a sign.  When and how would we know what was the right decision?  We talked some more and decided that the best route to take was the one shown to us by God.  Ken had several interviews set up, so we said to God, “It’s all in your hands.”  If Ken was offered a job with a salary the same or lower than what he was making at his previous job, the girls would stay put, and we would somehow find a way to manage the situation.  If, however, Ken was making anything at all above his last salary, we would take that proverbial leap of faith.

I will never forget the day the call came.  It was May, school was almost out, our applications were on hold, and the girls were wondering where they would be that fall.  I was hanging clothes on the line in the backyard.  Drying inside the house was expensive and hot, so the air conditioning stayed off, and the clothes hung outside.  I had thrown our portable phone in the basket and had to dig through the wet clothes to find it when it started ringing.  “Call the school,” Ken announced with joy.  I was stunned.  He was in Boston, on his way to the airport after a job interview, and I had been waiting to hear how it went.  “They offered me my dream job.  We can stay in Maryland, and I can work at home.”  “And?” I asked.  “And the pay is what I was making plus to the penny, to the penny,” he emphasized, “exactly what we need to pay the tuition.”  I was overjoyed.  I couldn’t wait to tell the girls the good news.

We’ve been at Saints Peter and Paul for almost ten years now.  Rebecca graduated with honors and went on to a wonderful college.  Katie and Morgan have many friends and are receiving an outstanding education.  But even more important is that they are all happy.  Correction, we are all happy.  Who knows what would have happened if we had not taken that leap of faith and trusted in God.  “Be not afraid,” appears more times than any other phrase in the Bible.  The message is simple.  Whether or not we hear it can make all the difference in the world.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  Her children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

What’s Your Dream?

IMG_1449“Welcome to Hollywood!  Everyone’s got a dream.  What’s your dream?” Those are both the opening and the closing lines in the movie Pretty Woman, a story in which every young woman’s childhood dream is realized when Vivian is swept off her feet by Mr. Right, a very rich and very handsome Mr. Right (okay, I would argue that she actually swept him off of his feet, but you get the point).  Though many would argue, understandably so, that the road Vivian took to find her dream – running away from home, living on the streets, becoming a prostitute, and being hired by Edward for the week – is not the best way to achieve one’e dream, it’s those words that open and close the movie that come back to me over and over again.  I hear them echoing in my mind at least once a week, but I can’t really explain to you why.  After all these years, I’ve decided to chalk it up to my inner voice constantly reminding me that as a little girl I had a dream that until recently was nothing more than a wispy cloud elusively hovering just out of reach as I stretched my hand out the window on a mountain road.

When I was in third grade, Mrs. Bizup said to me “You are a writer.”  At the age of eight, I could hardly know exactly what she was trying to tell me, but I was thrilled when several of my poems were published in a local magazine (yes, Mrs. Bizup was behind that).  From that point forward, I would imagine myself in many different positions and occupations in life.  In middle school, I thought about being a teacher.  In high school, I wanted to be a lawyer.  I went to college determined to be a political speech writer but shifted gears when it came time to apply for graduate school and became a librarian.  If you really think about it, all of those professions had one thing in common – each of them uses a large amount of reading and writing.  The key word there is, of course, WRITING!

Oh if I had only listened to Mrs. Bizup in third grade or to Mrs. Wilson in twelfth grade who told me that I would make a great lawyer, but my real gift was writing.  How many times have I finished a book and thought, I could write a better plot?  Or watched a movie and thought, I could write a better script?  My whole life I have watched people and imagined them as characters in a book or read an article and wondered how it could be translated into a story.  In the back of my mind, I always knew what I wanted to do, but I never had the courage to try or the self-confidence to think that I could succeed.  Finally, at the urging of my mother and my husband, I quit my job and began writing.

It brings me great pleasure to be able to say that my first novel, A Place to Call Home, has just been released in its second edition.  I’ve already had a children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, sell more copies than I ever dreamed.  And my second novel, Picture Me, is complete and ready for the publishing process to begin.  I feel like, at the age of 45, my life is just beginning, and it’s all because I was encouraged to take a leap and follow my dream.

So I ask you now, what’s your dream?  Everybody’s got a dream…

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com