My Favorite Place?

One of the online groups I belong to poses an ice-breaker question every so often in order for members of the group to get to know each other. This morning’s question got me thinking. The question was, “What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled?”

That’s an easy one and a difficult one at the same time. Easy because my favorite travels immediately jumped into my mind without hesitation. Difficult because I have more than one favorite for more than one reason.

When I was a librarian, I was often asked what my favorite book is. I answered the way only a librarian could, “That depends. I have many favorites, all according to category!”

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Sisters in Faith, Love, and Grace

It’s been almost six years now since I first walked on the holy ground of Israel where I met the people who would come to be major players in my game of life. I still can’t believe the many gifts and blessings I received on that pilgrimage and the countless ones I’ve received since then.

2016 Pilgrims
Jan and Amy on the Sea of Galilee

In 2018, one of my pilgrim family members, Jan, invited me to go on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land planned for February of 2019.

I eagerly accepted her invitation and extended the offer to my sister-in-law, Lisa. That trip forever changed our relationship, making us true sisters in marriage, love, and faith. Since our return, rarely a day goes by that Lisa doesn’t check in on me to send her love and tell me she’s praying for me (she’s a much better sister than I am as I’m terrible at reaching out to people). Those texts mean more to me than she will ever know.

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Are You Seeking Adventure?

Earlier this morning, I read that spending trends among Americans are changing. Rather than buying things (which we all did a lot of over the past year), Americans are buying experiences (which we did very little of in 2020). People are realizing that they have enough stuff but not enough experiences. People are not only ready to get out of their house (and out of their pajamas and sweatpants) but to get out into the world.

I’m always amazed by those who have little but live a lot. By that, I mean those who sell everything and buy a sailboat or an RV and live life as one grand adventure. A few years ago, friends took their four small children (and I mean really small–ages 3-9) on a sailboat trip around the world for a year. I can’t even imagine that! Ken was enthralled and talks often about selling everything and living the rest of our lives visiting one campground after another.

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A World of Kindness

Have you ever met someone who exuded kindness like the smell of a cherry pie in an open window on a summer day? This is a person whose eyes catch you, twinkle, and without words, bid you a good day. The kind of person who holds out his hand to help you down from a bus, or pulls out a chair for you, or offers to carry your suitcase even though he has one of his own. The kind of person who talks little about himself or herself but offers to listen, without judgement, to whatever is on your mind, offering a smile and encouraging word. As I’ve said before, kindness is all that really matters, and meeting a truly kind person can alter your attitude, your day, even your life. How often do you meet such a person? Once a day? Once a month? Once in a lifetime? 

Wouldn’t it be nice to meet someone like that in every encounter you have?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be that someone to others?

What would that world look like? Read more

Emphatically, Yes

As I write this, I am concluding day two of my second visit to the Holy Land. We spent the day in Galilee, visiting the towns of Nazareth, Cana, and Tabgha. I feel enormously blessed to be back in this place where, as we heard this morning, “the Word became flesh.” Just thinking about that brings me chills and causes my eyes to tear up. Who are we that the Son of God should come to save us? It’s such a humbling thought, and yet, throughout the day today, I have been reminded that God does come to us over and over in our lives. He seeks us out, invites us to come to Him, and implores us to follow Him. We but need to answer with one word… Read more

You’re My Inspiration

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When I began writing the award-winning book, Island of Miracles, I never planned to have another Chincoteague Island book follow it. But as the book was coming to a close, I found it hard to say goodbye to the characters I had created.  When I got to the end, I had no follow-up story in mind, yet the words To be continued… sprang from the page. There was no doubt, by then, that the story of the Middleton and Kelly families was not over. 

Now that I have begun writing the first draft of the sequel, it strikes me that many of the characters and situations in this book, more so than any of my books, are a direct reflection of the people and events that have influenced me throughout my life. Perhaps that is why I can’t just let it go. While all of my characters take on a life of their own and become very real to me, the ones in Island of Miracles became living, breathing individuals in my mind and heart. It now makes me wonder about the impact that others have on all of our lives and if we even realize how much we are influenced by what goes on around us at the time.

I wrote Island of Miracles at, what I consider now, a turning point in my life. It was just after I visited the Holy Land, and I was forever changed as a person in ways that cannot be explained unless you have been there yourself. I was hungry to write a book that was about something more than romance and intrigue. I wanted it to be filled with inspiration, and I found that inspiration in the people I most love and admire in my personal life.

Many of the characters are named for real people who mean so very much to me. If you read Island of Miracles, you will certainly remember the young priest who helps Kate along her journey. Father Darryl is indeed a real person whose faith, optimism, and general outlook on life has had a great impact on me since I met him on my trip. One of Kate’s closest friends, Anne, is based on three of my closest friends. One has been my best friend for almost 25 years; and the others have become two of my closest friends over the past two years, beginning with the bond we shared in the Holy Land, and it now feels like they have been a part of my life from the beginning.

Ronnie is a dear friend who inspires me with her faith, perseverance, and patience. Dr. Sprance is not a heart doctor at all unless you recognize his ability to show unconditional love to those he meets. His unwavering faith touches every person who knows him. He may not be a doctor who can heal the heart, but he truly is a healer of the soul. Trevor is my Godson, and while he is still young, I see in him the gentleman he will become someday. Tammi, Shannon, and Marian are all friends who have touched me deeply through their friendship, and I cannot imagine life without them.

I am introducing a new character in the sequel who is named after my other best friend. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she was forced to begin her entire life again in her thirties, reshaping it in her forties, and learning to enjoy life as it is and not how it might have been. I don’t think she has any idea how much she inspires me every single day with her quiet resolve and desire to find joy and peace in an unsettling world.

And then there’s the other new character I am introducing, a young former Marine trying to find his place in the world. Yes, he too is a real person, and he knows exactly who he is. He’s always telling us how we helped him become the person that he is, but I don’t think he realizes how he has helped us in our journey as well. It is nothing short of inspirational to watch this young man mature and discover who he is and who he is meant to be. 

Of course, my parents and my brothers have greatly influenced me over the course of my life. As have my husband and our children. In fact, I’m not sure we ever reach a time in our lives when we cease to be influenced by the people, places, and events around us. We are all living in a constant state of growth, change, and renewal. I thank God every day for the many influences He has placed in my life. Know that if your name or your circumstance appears in any of my books, you, your life situation, your decisions, and the person that you are, have greatly influenced me in someway. For that, and for you, I am most grateful.

Who or what has influenced you?

What I was writing about this time last year:   Starting Today…

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet 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 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 available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at at

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)

Avoiding the Thorns

DSC08689Recently, I visited the Holy Lands and made the Palm Sunday walk down the Mount of Olives. One of our stops along the route was Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept for Jerusalem. On that hillside were thorn trees that are believed to have been the same type of thorns used to crown Jesus at the beginning of His passion. The size and thickness of those thorns was staggering, and the vision has not left me. In fact, I have been almost fixated on those thorns for weeks now, and I think I have finally figured out why.

For years, I pictured those thorns the same way most of us probably pictured them, like thorns from a rose bush or a blackberry bush. Those annoying, little thorns that catch on your clothes as you walk by, and prick your finger when you try to cut off a rose or gather a bucket of berries. Never had I imagined the thorns as anything other than small nuisances. Yes, they were sharp, and yes, they would have drawn blood and caused pain, but in comparison to everything else that Jesus went through, were they really all that bad? Was I ever wrong about that! I can barely stomach the thought of those long, thick, sharp-as-a-spear thorns digging into Jesus’ scalp, his forehead, his skull. But that’s not the worst of it, not at all the reason why I can’t let the image go. 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