Exposed to the Light

“Faith, like film, is developed in the darkness.” This was said by our associate pastor, Father Michael Angeloni, at daily Mass this past Monday, April 20. When I heard those words, I did what I so often want to do when I attend a live Mass–I stopped the video and backed it up to listen again. “Faith, like film, is developed in the darkness.” Father said that even those who walk closely with God experience times of darkness, times when nothing seems to make sense, times when we ask questions and seek answers.

Several times each day, I look at this situation we are in and wonder, what is happening? Why is this happening? How can we get past this? I question everything that is being done. Is it the right thing to stay home and not risk being exposed? Is it right to protest staying in? Is it right to close so many businesses? Is it right to keep businesses open? Is it right to visit with people whom we know have had no exposure? Is it best to shut ourselves off from physical contact with anyone and everyone? How do we know when it’s safe to go into the world again? What are the answers, and how do we know what the right answers are? 

I am stumbling in the dark, grappling for the light switch. I can’t see where I’m going. I don’t know if danger lies ahead. The darkness seems to swallow me, distorting my vision, and I can’t tell if I’m alone.2020 Darkness

But then, I remember… Read more

The Only Gift That Matters

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I recently heard someone say that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her faith. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. Here we are, in the midst of the Christmas shopping season, and I hear that the greatest gift someone received from her parents was the gift of faith. Not an Apple Watch, not a laptop, not a designer bag or piece of jewelry, but the simplest of gifts–the ability to believe what is not seen and embrace it, the courage to trust in God, and the knowledge that there is a glorious new life awaiting us. 

I thought to myself, how true it is that the greatest gift we can pass down is easy and free to give, but then I realized, faith is not easy and it’s not free… Read more

He is there

This past weekend, I attended a retreat at the beautiful St. Vincent the Martyr Catholic Church in Madison, New Jersey. With all the craziness of the past few months, it was a welcome treat to be able to spend twenty-six hours in prayer and reflection and listen to the stories of other women who are at various stages in their prayer lives. It made me realize how blessed I am in so many ways, and it made me realize just what true love is… Read more

Phenomenal Cosmic Power

aladin5.jpgYesterday, my daughter, my mother-in-law, and I went to see the new live-action release of Disney’s Aladdin. As with all of Disney’s films, it was a spectacle for the eyes and a sweet concoction for the ears. I was surprised that only Jasmine and Aladdin seemed Middle-Eastern. Those were some lily-white inhabitants of Agrabah! Overall, though, the acting was superb,, the score was enchanting, and we really enjoyed the film, except for one thing that completely ruined the ending for me and left me feeling very much out of sorts… Read more

Grading on a Curve

Those who follow me on Facebook or Instagram will know that I spent this past weekend at a writer’s conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What a fabulous city that is! I’m going to be honest here, my only knowledge of and experiences with Milwaukee involve the Cunninghams, Fonzie, and Laverne and Shirley. I had no idea what a delightful place it is with its Old World architecture, German restaurants, and biergartens (lots and lots of beer gardens, pubs, and bars). Of course, I did take some time to visit the Bronze Fonz while I was there, but my best and most personal experience had nothing to do with 70s television or even with the conference…
Fonz.JPG Read more

Friended By God

GFMPerhaps I’m the only person watching, but I absolutely love the new television show, God Friended Me. It tells the story of an atheist, Miles, who is friended by God on Facebook. He declines the invitation again and again until he realizes this prankster, as he believes the person to be,  isn’t going to give up. Once Miles reluctantly accepts the request, he begins receiving friend suggestions from ‘God.’ Each new friend is, indeed, a friend in need. Reminiscent of two of our favorite shows, Touched by and Angel and Early Edition, each episode revolves around Miles and his friends trying to help the person God has thrust into their lives. 

Why do I love this show so much? There are several reasons. Read more

Riding Out the Storm

Please don’t think I mean any disrespect to those in the Florida Panhandle or that I am diminishing what they are going through. Rather, I greatly sympathize with them, for they are facing a far greater storm than most of us do in our daily lives. However, I can’t help but think that what has happened with hurricane Michael is the perfect analogy for what often happens to us at certain times in our lives.

Sometimes, we are perfectly happy living a carefree life with blue skies over head and the sun beating down upon us. Even though there might be some warning signs, and those who voice caution, we have no worries because everything is running smoothly and going our way. Then, all of a sudden, we wake up one morning to the news that a category 4 hurricane with 104mph sustained winds is barreling upon us. With barely enough time to register what is happening, we are forced to go into survival mode.

What are we to do during these times of impending disaster? Where do we turn for help? Do we turn for help? Do we buckle down, sequester ourselves, and declare that we are going to wage this war on our own? Or do we look for help, realizing that there are times in life when the storm is too great, the winds are too strong, and the clouds are too dark for us to fight it alone?

It is during those times that I find I need my family and friends more than ever. But more than my friends and family, I need God. Who better to lead me safely through the storm than He who parts the seas, calms the waves, and turns the dark into day? Read more

Longing for a Little Sleep

IMG_0085Have you ever noticed that a child can sleep anywhere? How about that guy on the plane next to you who is asleep before the plane takes off and slumbers soundly until the plane touches down? By the way, that’s my husband. Oh, how I wish that was me. Actually, forget sleeping in a car or on a plane. I just want to be able to sleep in my own bed.

At some point every night, I wake up. Sometimes, it’s because Ken wakes up, and since I can’t sleep through the sound of a drop of rain on a blade of grass, that wakes me up, too. Sometimes, it’s the sound of the wind against the house. Sometimes, it’s because I hear Morgan get up to use the bathroom, or our dog, Misty, softly padding across the carpet. Sometimes, I have no idea at all what causes me to stir. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Once I’m awake, there’s no going back to sleep, even if it’s only midnight.  I lie in bed for the next two hours, four hours, six hours, just praying that I can go back to sleep. My body longs for restful slumber, but my mind refuses to shut down.

It’s not that I’m worried or stressed. I just can’t seem to stop the thoughts. I’ve written entire chapters with engrossing scenes and witty dialog while lying in the dark, my eyes closed, but my mind open. I’ve planned days and trips and parties. I’ve rehearsed conversations I intend to have family or friends. Mostly, I pray. I pray rote prayers I’ve known since childhood as well as long streams of consciousness that roll through the foggy recesses of my mind. There never seems to be an end to my prayers–asking for good health for my parents and Ken’s, asking for wisdom and happiness for my daughters, for success with a project, for traveling mercies, for the intentions of friends and loved ones. I pray more at night when I’m trying to sleep than I do during the day when I’m fully awake.

prayerWhich brings me to wonder… Maybe I’m trying too hard during the day to do things on my own, to fit in too many things, to honor too many commitments. Maybe I’m supposed to be doing less and praying more. Maybe I need to spend less time focussing on myself and more time focussing on God. It’s not something I ever thought of before, but maybe it should have been. 

Glancing at the clock, I have several more hours to go until bedtime. Perhaps it’s time to take a break from this world and concentrate on the next. Maybe then, I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Learning from the Past, Changing for the Future.

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 books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-sale. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is on pre-sale and will be released on December 1, 2017.

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)

A Little Time to Spare

Yesterday, I was out running errands while Morgan was at field hockey practice. I just got a new car, and I wanted to organize the storage space in the front seat, so I ran to my favorite home organization store – the Dollar Tree. If you’ve never done home organization shopping at the Dollar Tree, then you are missing out. Every room of my house has the perfect containers, all purchased for a dollar each! Anyway, I was standing in the back of the store, weighing my options and trying to decide what would work best, when an older man stopped nearby to look at something.

“Hmm, sugar free chocolate. I wonder if it’s any good,” he said to himself.

Glancing over, I saw the display of Baker’s Chocolate that had caught his attention. I winced.

“Only for baking,” I told him. “You definitely do not want to eat it. It’s very bitter.”

He looked at the box for a moment, and then I saw understanding dawn. 

“I guess the name should have given that away. I’m diabetic, and the words ‘no sugar’ jumped out at me. I sure miss eating chocolate.”

Before I knew it, this man launched into a story about his younger sister who had eaten a whole box of ExLax as a child. It was much more information than I needed to know about this stranger and his family, but I smiled and listened. When he finished his story, I nodded, picked up the plastic containers I’d been eyeing, and began to turn away. But I didn’t get far. 

“I have three kids,” this man proceeded to tell me. Before I could say that I, too, have three children, or rather, before I could escape and run down the aisle, he began telling me about his children and his grandchildren. Twenty minutes and several stories later, I smiled, told him I enjoyed talking to him, and wished him a nice day. The entire time he talked, my mind was screaming, “Don’t you get that I have things to do?” But my heart was saying, this man needs to talk.

Perhaps his wife has a medical issue and can’t hold a conversation with him. Perhaps he recently retired and is at loose ends in his life. Perhaps he is just so filled with joy at this stage of his life that he wants the world to know it. Whatever the reason, he chose me to spend close to a half hour regaling with stories. In the end, I paid for my stuff, ran to the grocery store, and still had time to sit in the school parking lot and organize my car. What could have been seen as lost time in my otherwise very busy day, ended up being just a few minutes that I had to spare.

It’s crazy how busy we all are. My days seem to roll by at a constant speed with little time to take a break. If you had told me yesterday morning that I’d spend part of my day listening to a stranger tell me how he feels when his grandson lays his head on his lap and looks up and says, “Grandpa, I love you,” I would have told you no way, I had no time for that. But, as it turned out, I had plenty of time. In fact, I had more than enough time. It’s amazing how sometimes, when we’re open to it, God allows us to make time for little things like listening to a stranger. And that makes me wonder.

If I had been on my phone, if I was one of those people who walks around with earbuds in my ears all day, or if I had simply ignored this man’s comment to himself about the chocolate, the conversation never would have taken place. Would my day have changed? Not at all. But would his? I’ll never know. But God does. He knew that I was meant to be there at that time. He knew that this man needed someone to listen. He knew that my day would turn out just fine if I spared a few minutes for a stranger. He knew that I’d still be thinking about it today. Maybe that man is still thinking about it, too. And maybe it was just what he needed.

Rick Warren

What I was writing about one year ago this week: America, Our Ship is Sinking.

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 books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-sale. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is on pre-sale and will be released on December 1, 2017.

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)

A World Without God

My father is a firm believer that we are living in a world without God and that God, angry with us, is showing us His wrath. I don’t believe in a vengeful, wrath-filled God. Jesus dispelled that when He was here on earth. However, I do believe that, where God is not welcome, evil fills the void. We, as a nation, have turned our backs on God. He is not wanted in our schools, our government, our hospitals, our military, our public spaces. I daresay, He is not welcome in many private spaces either. We have shoved Him out of our lives and left the door wide open for evil to enter in and take up residence. 

I don’t care if you believe in Satan or demons or anything like that. That’s a theological debate that has been ongoing for centuries. However, there can be no doubt that, call it what you will, there is pure evil in the world. How else do you describe a massacre like the one that just took place on Las Vegas? If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is. Murders, rapes, drug addiction, family violence, and a horde of other evils plague us every day, and it’s only getting worse. How can one not label that the work of an evil presence in our midst?

We live in world where God is mocked, where people are told to do as they wish, where pleasure is seen as the only thing worth obtaining, and where we value things, including celebrity and power, over virtues. We live in a world where people claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” What does that even mean? I was fascinated by the most recent results of the Pew Research Center study of religious landscapes. Those who said they were “spiritual but not religious” were mostly under 40, unmarried, childless, and making less than $100,000 per year. Most had some college or less. Almost 85% rarely or never attend any kind of religious service. 

Why do I bring this up? Because I think it’s a good snapshot of where we are in America today. We have lost our foundation. So many young people are no longer getting married and are choosing to have one child or none. Many never read or hear or learn about God. And while the vast majority of these “spiritual” people believe in God (over 91%), they really have no idea what or who God is, how to relate to Him, or why He is important. We are raising a generation of people who believe that they are their own god, that only their decisions matter, and that being “happy” can only be found through self-gratification. Is it any wonder that evil can so easily slip into and become commonplace in our lives?

St FrancisThe next question is, what can we do to combat the evil that has taken up residence in our world? The answer is so simple it sounds trite, impossible even. Be kind. Be loving. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. BE CHRIST. Be Christ to everyone. More than once, I’ve written a few blogs about bringing peace, being a person of encouragement, and kindness (Be Kind and “In the End, Only Kindness Matters”). Many others have as well, but a few words written down will never make a difference. What will make a difference is you and me and others, spending every day of our lives trying to make this world a better place. On this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, let’s all strive to be instruments of peace, to treat other with kindness and respect, and to be Christ to the world. 

I pray for the people killed and injured in Las Vegas. I pray for those suffering throughout our country and our world. I pray for those who are lost and hopeless. I pray that we find a way to let God back into our lives. He is waiting for us. All we have to do open the door and ask Him to come back in.

230061-Without-God-There-Is-No-Virtue

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Nine Reasons Why Saying Yes is Not a Weakness.

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 books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-sale.

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)