There’s Gotta Be A Little Snow Sometime

SnowyTrees2019.JPGOne day last week, while my husband and youngest daughter slept snugly in their beds, and Mother Nature covered the trees and fields with a soft blanket of white, I quietly walked outside in the dark to take some photos of the gently falling snow. The world around me was cold, barren, frozen and unwelcoming. And it was absolutely exquisite. It was my favorite kind of snow. It fell softly from the sky, landing on every branch, leaf, and needle, turning each and every tree into a glowing, white piece of art, a fine sculpture created by the loving hand of God. I couldn’t help but think about a conversation that I’ve had with more than one person lately.  

You see, I’m noticing a trend, and it makes me sad. I see it in the young and old, in the workplace and in school, among volunteer committees and organizations, even within my own family. Everyone is looking for the easy way out, the no-pain method of doing things. There is a belief that everyone is entitled to happiness, to the never-ending bliss that drowns all pain and discomfort and allows each person to live a life of total pleasure without worry or sacrifice. I’ve even heard people say that here, in the United States, everyone is entitled to be happy.  

But they’re wrong.

We are merely entitled to the pursuit of happiness, and even that is within the confines of the law. That clause in our Declaration of Independence (mind you, it is nowhere in the Constitution, the document that actually rules this land) is based on the principle that we are all seeking some higher form of happiness endowed by our Creator. But even our Creator never promised happiness on earth. On the contrary, we were told that there would be suffering and pain and sorrow.

I’m reminded of an old Lynn Anderson song. Yes, I’m showing my age now, but you may recall her lyrical protest: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta to be a little rain sometime.” Preach it, Lynn. 

Without sadness, we wouldn’t fully understand joy. Without mourning, why would we find the need to rejoice? Without snow, who would appreciate the spring?

It sounds simple, but it’s so much deeper than just letting a little rain, or snow, fall into our lives now and then. We need to learn to embrace the dark times, and allow them to shape us into better persons. There is a term that I think of more and more as I get older.  It is “redemptive suffering.” It is the Christian belief that all suffering we do here on earth is meant to lead us to a deeper relationship with Christ. In our suffering, we experience just a small taste of what He experienced in His passion and death. Furthermore, the suffering gives us the opportunity to share in Christ’s humanity and to understand one of the characteristics that makes us truly human. It binds us to each other and to Christ. The more we accept our suffering, the more we become like Christ, and the more we are redeemed. It breaks my heart to hear people say that if there were a God, He wouldn’t allow suffering because there is so much to be learned from sorrow and pain, and not just for the person suffering.

Being a witness to suffering can help us to feel less selfish, to become more caring, more giving. It can allow us to be more charitable and comforting. I think of my daughter, who decided to pursue a career as a nurse after helping my father-in-law during his last days on earth. What a gift her grandfather gave her.

Suffering can purify our souls and help us to understand and appreciate what true happiness is. We just have to embrace it, and know that the cold, barren, darkness won’t last forever. I think of my oldest daughter, who lost a dear friend to suicide, and how it transformed her thinking so that she fully appreciates how good life is even on days that seem too hard to face.

It is meant to lead us to a more beautiful place, a place where it never rains, never snows, never allows pain and sorrow.  For those who are very lucky, that place can actually be found here on earth, even in the midst of suffering.  And it can be a beautiful sight to behold. I think of someone I love very much who suffered through a traumatic event recently and has allowed herself to become stronger, more self-assured, and more willing to embrace new opportunities that have come her way.

snow2019So the next time you experience a time of cold, harsh, and unwelcoming sadness in your life, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, remember that there is a reason for our suffering. There are things that can be learned, not by the mind but by the soul. Let others see that sorrow and pain does not always have to end in total despair; there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be strong, courageous, and faithful, knowing that your spring will come, and eternal happiness will be your reward. Remember that there is always the breaking of dawn, even after the coldest, snowiest night.

What I was writing about a year ago this week: From Sorrow, Joy.

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.

Amy’s next novel, The Devil’s Fortune, will be released in March of 2019. Pre-ordering is available from some vendors with more being added each day.

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).

What’s Hidden Inside?

IMG_2314I found out yesterday that my beautiful, energetic, happy, and seemingly healthy four-year-old golden retriever has a life threatening heart murmur.  While still in the prime of her life, she will need to see a cardiologist and be put on medication to regulate her heart.  Misty was showing no signs of being sick.  She and her sister, Rosie, chase each other around the yard and the house on a daily basis.  She eats well and has a great disposition.  I never imagined that her routine checkup would reveal a condition that could, at any moment, take her life.

This situation has gotten me thinking about, not just Misty, but others who may have something hidden from the outside world.  We encounter dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people every day.  How many of those people have something going on inside their bodies or in their lives of which we are completely unaware?  How can we possibly know everything that another person is going through?

Sometimes when my children complain about somebody in their class, I remind them that they have no idea what that person might be going through outside of school.  Perhaps that person who refused to give up his seat to you on the subway, or the person at the grocery store who grumbled and complained the entire time she was packing your groceries, just received terrible news or is going through some kind of personal turmoil.  I think that we tend to believe that if somebody looks great on the outside or has a smile on their face all of the time that their life must be perfect.  In reality, this is rarely the case. Everybody is going through something all of the time.

So the next time you meet up with somebody who isn’t in a good mood, smile at them, and be kind.  You never know if that small gesture will add the little bit of brightness they need at that moment.  And always remember that even those with a smile on their face and those who always look happy and healthy could have something hidden that is wreaking havoc on their body, mind, or soul.  How you treat them and react to them could make a huge impact on their lives and perhaps even your own.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and 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.  Her previously published 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 and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

In The Palm of His Hand

A favorite song of mine has been running through my mind all morning.  It’s called On Eagles Wings, and it reminds us that no matter what we are going through, God is there for us.  Life can be hard.  We never know what curve ball will be thrown our way.  Three Ocean Citynights ago, a friend of mine from high school lost her long struggle with cancer.  She was 45, unmarried, and without children.  She had so much life still to live!  This morning, our world was rocked with the news that another family friend has passed on.  Even more tragic, this young man was just twenty-one years old; his life was only just beginning.  My friend died knowing that she was being held, as the song and Psalm say, “in the palm of His hand.”  The young man did not, and I wonder if that would have made all the difference.

At every moment of our lives, we are being held in the palm of God’s hand.  Whether we are feeling peace or loss, profound joy or the deepest grief, God is there.  Even in the times when we do not feel His presence, He is there.  As the Footprints poem says, it is at the times when we need Him the most, that God carries us.  I know that I have relied on this belief many times in my life, and my wish for you is that you know that you are always “in the palm of His hand.”

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