Forever Home

We arrived at Reagan National close to nine at night. Our dog, Rosie, was at my parents’ house, so we drove to Southern Maryland for the night. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, scrapple (my favorite), and Mom’s homemade coffee cake, we headed home as the sun was climbing into the sky. The night felt short, and a part of me welcomed the two-hour drive because I wasn’t quite ready to face the day, but another part of me just wanted to close my eyes and open them again once we in our driveway–not due to sleepiness but restlessness. We crossed the Chesapeake Bay and drove toward home. The closer we got, the more excited Rosie got, and I knew how she felt.

It’s the same sentiment I’ve heard our youngest express all semester, her first away from home. We all know the quote… Read more

Earning Fs in Life

Over the past two days, I was back home attending the funeral of a beloved cousin. The prayer service on Monday evening and the funeral Mass on Tuesday were beautiful and brought many happy memories to mind as we bid goodbye to one of the brightest lights in our family.

Rebecca in MSM Library.jpgFather Early’s Homily really struck a chord with me. He likened life to a class in school. He said that, ideally, when we go to class, we work to achieve As; however, Father told us that we should work hard to achieve all Fs in the class of life.

What? All Fs?

Yes, he encouraged us to earn Fs in life. Why?

Because…

The real gifts in life all begin with the letter, F. In all that we do, we should strive to achieve those Fs. Below are the few that Father pointed out as well as a few that I have taken the liberty of adding:

 

 

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Family: A simple internet search brings up many published articles with titles such as,  For Happiness, Seek Family, Not Fortune – WebMD, Family Talk: Family makes many of us happy – NewsOK, and Families Are Changing, But Still Key to Happiness. Study after study proves that having a tight-knit family leads to happiness. Family can do more than provide stability. Family gives us a whole group of people to lean on, a built-in support system, a ready-made network, and a circle of friends. My mother is, and always has been, my best friend. My husband is my rock. My sister-in-law and I are each other’s spiritual warriors. My brothers are there for me in thick and thin. I can call on my Aunt Debbie for anything and everything. My mother-in-law is a second mother to me, and my children are the lights of my life. At the core of all of this is one simple thing – love, a deep and unwavering love for each other.

Friends: I have quoted the book of Sirach more than once and will happily do so again. “Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure” (Sirach 6:14). And who can forget the immortal words of the angel, Clarence, in Frank Capra’s timeless story of the importance of friends, It’s a Wonderful Life? “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.” This past Monday, our Bible study group discussed the importance of having meaningful relationships with friends, all kinds of friends, including those who bring us to a deeper faith.
Sirach

Faith: Though I am listing this as number three, I firmly believe that faith is the most important F in our lives. For every article about the importance of family, there are ten about the importance of faith. As we were told by Jesus, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Faith is what gets us through the hard times, believing that things will get better. Faith helps us stay on track when everything around us seems to go awry. Faith can lead to miracles (see my blog about the movie, Breakthrough).

Famliy Fun.jpgFun: Where would we be if we never had fun? It’s more than just a notion, more than a passing moment, more than a childish endeavor. Seeking and having fun is necessary in so many areas of our lives. Psychology Today tells us that Having Fun Must be Taken Seriously for it is through fun that people learn to negotiate rules, develop healthy lifestyles, gain emotional control and social competency, grow personal resiliency, and hone curiosity. Psychologist Marc Bekoff Ph.D. writes “Play is a banquet for the brain, a smorgasbord for the senses, providing nourishment for body and spirit.” He also says that we, Americans, are forgetting the importance of the feast and not joining the buffet line when it comes to seeking and creating fun in our lives. We work too hard and play too little. We need people like my cousin, Eleanor, in our lives to remind us to have fun.

Fulfillment: I believe that all of us have a need to feel fulfilled. While all of the other Fs mentioned above can and should contribute to that fulfillment, each of us is put here on Earth to serve a purpose. We each have our meaning in life–the pursuit of that which makes us feel whole. For some, it’s charity work. For others, it’s career. For others, it’s providing a loving home for their families. However, I find that what we think is our purpose in life is often what we’ve been told is our purpose–to have a good career, to make lots of money, to provide a big house with lots of stuff for our families. The simple truth is, the life purpose of each person goes beyond what he earns or what she does for a living. It is, again, that thing which makes us feel whole, that which inspires us to a higher calling. 

Fortune: We should all strive to achieve great fortune in life–riches and wealth beyond compare. However, these riches do not consist of the material things we own, and the wealth, of which I speak, is not the amount of money we have in the bank. The fortune we should seek is that which encompasses all of the other Fs that we should be earning throughout our lives. We need to gather our family closer and cherish them. We need to collect good and faithful friends who will lift us up. We need to have the faith to move many mountains. We must amass hours of fun. We must search for what will lead us to fulfillment. When we have all of those things, we all will have cups overflowing with the sweetest drink.

So, I urge you, go out and earn those Fs. If you do, you will leave this world as an A+ student of life.

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: I Was a Free-Range Kid.

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 a finalist for the RWA Golden Quill Contest and the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.

Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is now available! Order your copy today.

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).

A Glimpse of Paradise

 

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A day on the water with my brothers and grandparents

When I was a little girl, there was no place more enchanting, more relaxing, more rejuvenating for my mind, body, and soul than grandma’s house. Whether for a weekend, a week, or the whole summer, be it alone or with my brothers, it was my escape from the real world. After I got married, I continued visiting my grandmother, whose 97th birthday would have been yesterday, carving out a week every summer to make the three-hour drive from our home on the Eastern Shore down to St. Mary’s County. I even made the trip, without fail, when I had three babies in tow. How my grandmother loved those visits, and how I loved being with her. Just like when I was child, there were no demands, no places we had to go, no stresses or worries. We lounged in the living room and read books, We sat on the backyard swing and talked. We made the rounds, visiting the cousins and neighbors, but were in no hurry to be anywhere. No matter my age or station in life, grandma’s house was, for me, a glimpse of Paradise.

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Morgan’s first visit to Granny’s

I tried, once I had the girls, to take a week at my own parents’ house as well, but somehow, the summers always got away from us, and I started going less and less. Just as I did when I was little, I began sending my girls to their grandmother’s house at a young age. I think Rebecca was three the first time I left her at my mother’s by herself. From the calls throughout the week, and the stories Rebecca brought home, you would have thought she spent the week at Disney World. Last summer, at the age of twenty-one, Rebecca took her boyfriend, Anthony, with her to spend several days at my parents’ house. I can’t begin to express how that made me feel. My parents felt like the most special people in the world, but they still reminded me that I didn’t get home enough. Every time I went home for a quick, overnight trip, my mother would say, “You need to come more often and stay longer.” I knew she was right, but I never really made the time to do it. 

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Rebecca’s visit to Grandma and Granddad’s
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Day one of my visit – Father’s Day

After we lost Ken’s dad this past winter, I realized how important those visits are, not just for my girls but for my parents and for me. That’s why, for the past three mornings, I have awoken in my old bedroom to the sounds of my eighty-one-year-old dad getting ready for his two-mile walk. Joining him, at a much earlier time that I would be opening my eyes at home, dad and I headed through the neighborhood. The first half the walk was spent in silence as we each prayed the Rosary. After that, dad pointed to the various houses along the way, telling me who still lived where, who was retired, who had since passed, and what changes were taking place in the neighborhood. We talked about our family and about people we knew. At times, we didn’t talk at all. We just enjoyed the quiet of each other’s company.

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Mom and I at Ladew Gardens

Yesterday, Mom and I went on a home and garden tour. We have watched three movies, gone shopping, and talked a lot. We’ve been in no hurry, had no stress or cares, and just enjoyed being together, chatting about books and the kids and life. It was my husband who reminded me that this visit is much like the ones I used to make to my grandmother’s house. I never let a summer go by that I didn’t make the trip, and far too many years have passed since I marked that week on the calendar. I’m so happy Ken reminded me how important that was. I’m going to make sure a trip to my parents’ house is always the first thing I mark on the calendar from now on when summer planning gets underway. We can’t let the busyness and the hectic pace of life allow us to ignore those beautiful gifts and glimpses of Paradise.

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available in stores and online.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Seven Reasons to Put Down Your Electronic Devices This Summer

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 Me, Whispering 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 latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores. 

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), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017).

All That Stuff & 5 Things It Taught Me

This week, my new home office is being completed, or nearly completed as there will still be things to do such as pictures to hang on the wall, a rug and curtains to pick out, etc. But for the most part, it will be ready to be used, complete with new furniture and a custom built closet, all courtesy of my wonderful father. It’s very strange to be sitting in the room that Rebecca occupied for most of her life, but she was all in favor of me converting the room, and I was way past due for a space of my own (you can only get so much accomplished when your “office” consists of a few shelves in a hall closet and a cabinet under the kitchen counter).

Over the course of the past couple weeks, Rebecca and I cleaned out her room, and I cleaned out two under-eave storage spaces to make room for the things she’s saving for her future office and/or apartment. I also cleaned out the downstairs hall closet, Ken’s office closet (where my Girl Scout stuff was), and that kitchen cabinet I mentioned. I am amazed at the amount of stuff that we pulled out, threw away, took to St Vincent DePaul, packed for Rebecca, and moved into the office. Where did it all come from?  

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This is just the “office” stuff that was in the hall closet!

I spent several hours just going through the seaman’s trunk that was found in the basement of my great-grandparent’s house. Inside were all the cards that Ken and I received from well-wishers when we got married (over twenty-three years ago) lots of old photographs of family and friends, the scrapbook my mother made when I was a baby, and a stack of old concert programs. I have no idea what to do with any of this stuff. Okay, I actually threw away the cards, but the wedding planner has to stay. Why? I have no idea, but I’m sure I’ll think of a reason.

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My eclectic mix of programs, and no George Micheal isn’t bringing lots of money on eBay these days.

I swore that I was not going to go along with the 40 Bags in 40 Days that so many have come to associate with Lent (I’m sorry, but that’s like associating snowmen with Christmas). I swore that I wasn’t going to get rid of things just because it’s Lent, and I’m still not, but there has been an awful lot of stuff leaving this house in the last two weeks. And an awful lot that has stayed.  But I try to learn something from everything, so I’ve been thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned over this week of cleaning. Here are the ones that have made an impact.

1.  If your children don’t care about it, then you don’t need to either.  Conversation: 

Rebecca:  “Mom, you still have all of my trophies from elementary school?” 

Me:  “Of course. Why would I throw them away?”

Rebecca:  “Why would you keep them?”

I have no idea. I don’t know why I kept them except that I thought she would want them. Now the question is, what do I do with them?

2.  Buying what’s on sale isn’t always the best idea. I used to always buy packs of children’s Valentines the day after Valentine’s Day. They cost no more than a quarter on that day. A few years ago, I was cleaning out that same, catch-all closet, and I came across half a dozen boxes of Valentines. I couldn’t remember the last time my girls traded Valentines, but I was well prepared should they want to start up again. And don’t even get me started on school supplies. Morgan asked me last week to stop by the store to buy her new pens and pencils. The only store I went to was “the closet.” Rebecca watched me pull them out and asked if I had enough school supplies for her children to use someday. Sadly, the answer is yes. And while it’s great to not have to run by the store every time someone runs out of their designated supply of pens, the amount of supplies we sometimes end up with is monumental. The girls are collecting school supplies to send to our sister parish in Guatemala. I hope they need pens and pencils, lots of pens and pencils. And notebooks and paper and index cards….

3.  Calculate your needs first. I have piles of books that I will never sell. I wish I had been able to sign and sell every one of them, but I was arrogant and overzealous. I ordered my first three books in quantities that even Barnes and Noble couldn’t handle in their warehouse. Now I have lots of copies of books that came out two, three, and four years ago, and I’m busy trying to sell the most recent works. These days, I order books three dozen at a time, and only when I know that I am going to sell them. If I need more, I can always contact the publisher and have a box sent. And I don’t feel so defeated by piles of unsold books. Now, about that whole storage area of storage containers….

4.  If you don’t have a use for it, plan to wear it, or aren’t sure you’re going to like it, don’t buy it. I have six white sweaters. Why? Because I’m a sucker for a good, white sweater. How often do I wear white sweaters? Good question, but I always know I have several if I need them. Unfortunately, I don’t. I wear the same white sweater every time I reach for a sweater. Somehow, I always think that this one will go better with that outfit, or that one will look better with a skirt, that one with pants. The truth is, they all look exactly the same – like a good, comfy, white sweater.

5.  Make use with what you have. Over the course of planning my office, I’ve had a running list of things I intended to purchase. While the cost of the office was growing, the size of the room was not, and neither was my bank account. I had to do some re-evaluating of my needs and wants. The shelves that I took down from Rebecca’s wall will work perfectly in the closet dad is building me. The black curtain rod can be spray painted to match the new color scheme. The degrees and awards I found while cleaning make more sense to hang than expensive art (using the frames from the pictures Rebecca took down).

I still have a long way to go. Yes, I did buy a new wall clock today. There’s just something I love about a wall clock with real hands, and I refuse to move the one from the kitchen. But I did end up throwing away the wedding planner. I’ve got all the memories still tucked safely away in my mind and heart. And there’s always room for more there.

Come back next week to see the transformation!

For Lenten inspiration, check out Amy’s collaboration with authors, Anne Kennedy, Susan Anthony, Chandi Owen, and Wendy Clark:  Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms.

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 book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner.  Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

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)

Becoming the Learners

IMG_0505This week so far has been pretty surreal. Katie has already started counting down to “move-in” day, Rebecca is home for what will probably be her last leisurely spring break and her last time “living” in our family home, we’ve started the process of converting Rebecca’s room to my office, and today was spent touring law schools. The end of the school year is approaching faster than I imagined, and I was already aware that it was barreling down on us like a tornado in the Oklahoma summer.

It’s going to feel very strange around here next year. Katie has this wonderful, endearing ability to bring light to every situation. It’s no wonder her class just chose her, “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.”  I’m really going to miss that ray of sunshine next year. And Rebecca and I have had the best conversations in the few days she’s been home. I’d forgotten how even our disagreements, when done in person and not over texting, can be honest, engaging, and informative. We’ve talked non-stop while cleaning out her room, driving to the law schools, and roaming the halls of academia, while plotting her future, reminiscing about the past, and just enjoying each other’s company.

It’s going to feel strange walking into my office every day and not thinking about the many years she inhabited the room, her Broadway marquee signs mingled with her Washington Capitals posters and inspirational plaques. Her awards and trophies have been packed away, and her favorite pieces of art, map of the world, and globe paperweight have been carefully packed, labeled, and set aside for “Rebecca’s future law office.” As we paint later this week, I know it will feel as if we are erasing one phase of life and replacing it with another. Alas, time marches on whether we’re ready or not.

I think this is why God gave me three daughters. Rebecca is here to show us the way. She taught us how to be parents, what we did right and what we did wrong, how to plant roots and grow a tree, and how to let go. Katie taught us the ups and downs of parenting. She showed us that there are good days and bad days, and we have to be ready for both. She helped us to be more attentive and kind, to better accept and appreciate the differences in all people, and how to let go, have fun, and say goodbye with the knowledge that it isn’t the end of anything but the beginning of everything. And Morgan has taught us patience, perseverance, and persistence. She has shown us how two people with almost identical personalities can be enormously different. She will remain in the nest, for a little longer, while the other two begin to spread wings and take off in flight. We’ll be back where we were twenty-one years ago, just Ken, our daughter, and me. She’ll have us all to herself, and I look forward to watching her grow and make her mark the way Rebecca and Katie have and continue to do. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and I think she will teach us more than both of her sisters combined.

Nobody ever told me that having three daughters was going to be easy. Nobody ever tried to convince me that letting them go would go wouldn’t break my heart. And nobody ever said that saying goodbye wouldn’t bring tears. But I wouldn’t have traded our lives for anything else. In spite of the fights between sisters and the fights between daughters and parents; despite the nights spent worrying about where they were or what they were doing; despite the trials, mistakes, and screw-ups we’ve endured as parents; and despite the sadness of watching them leave, I know that my heart rejoices in the women they are now and are becoming, and my tears of heartache are far outweighed by my tears of joy.

Life hasn’t always been easy parenting three headstrong, independent girls, I mean young women. Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster of never ending ups and downs, harrowing turns, and frightful loop-de-loops. But I guess that’s what parenting is all about. We start out thinking that we are the ones who know everything, who will impart years of wisdom on these young souls, who will be the ones to teach them everything they need to know. I never imagined that it would be I who would learn the most.

For Lenten inspiration, check out Amy’s collaboration with authors, Anne Kennedy, Susan Anthony, Chandi Owen, and Wendy Clark:  Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms.

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 book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner.  Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

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)

Not a Thing Could Come Between Them

img_0909Growing up, I was always jealous of my friends who had sisters. They had a built-in best friend, confidant, support system, and roommate. My closest childhood friends, two sisters who lived down the street, shared a room from the time my friend, Cindy, was born until the older sister, Jane, graduated from college. Even when they could have separated themselves from each other, they chose to live together on campus. Of course, I remember many times when they were at war and once when Cindy and I taped a line down the middle of their room; but even today, they are the best of friends.

img_0907My mother and her sister, Debbie, are also best friends, talking often, getting together for dinner, day trips, and visits with family. My Aunt Debbie was the closest thing I ever had to a sister since she and I are just fifteen years apart. It’s a cherished relationship, but it’s not quite the same as having that sisterly bond. I grew up longing to be a sibling to Laura, Mary, and Carrie Ingalls, or one of the Walton girls, or a member of the March clan.  After all, I was named after Amy March.  Why did she get sisters, and I didn’t?  Oh to have two or three sisters, that was a dream that I couldn’t get enough of. And I’ll be darned if God doesn’t work in funny and sometimes frustrating ways.

I’ve spent the last 18 years witnessing  firsthand the phenomenon that is sisterly love. I’ve been told by many people that having three girls, not two and not four, but three is the roughest scenario. Two are always on one side, and the third is always on another. Throughout their lives, my girls have been able to go from the best of friends to the worst of enemies in less than ten seconds. Our youngest, Morgan, laments almost daily that she doesn’t know what she will do without Katie next year when our middle daughter goes off to college.

Those same days, she can be heard telling Katie, “I can’t wait until you’re gone!”  Really?  I shake my head and ask myself if this is really what I imagined all those years ago. I don’t remember the Ingalls girls, or Mary Ellen, Erin, and Elizabeth Walton, or Jo and her March sisters having the same daily arguments and struggles with their sisters that my girls have. Okay, maybe the March sisters, but Jo and Amy did have very strong personalities.

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And that, I believe, is the monster I deal with. I have two daughters who are very strong-willed and have quite similar overbearing personalities. I’ve often wondered if Katie feels crushed between them as the middle child. How different her life will be next year when she is on her own. And how quiet it will be here. There won’t be any more morning img_0914arguments because Katie is running late for school. Again. There won’t be any accusations that someone wore someone else’s sweater without asking or, God forbid, that they came down wearing almost matching outfits. There won’t be fights over who didn’t clean up her mess or left the cap off the toothpaste.  On the other hand, there won’t be those moments when one cries on the other’s shoulder; when one runs into the house, past me at lightening speed, because she has to share big news with her sister, or when the beautiful sound laughter wakes me late at night during a spontaneous sister slumber party.

Irving Berlin’s words sure ring true in our house:

Sisters
Sisters
Sisters
There were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone “No, sir”
I’m there to keep my eye on her

Caring
Sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing

When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress and I stayed home

All kinds of weather
We stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two diff’rent faces
But in tight places
We think and we act as one

Those who’ve
Seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us

Many men have tried to split us up but no one can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister
Who comes between me and my man

As the song says, sisters should be devoted to each other, share, care, and let nothing come between them.  They are there for each other to celebrate milestones. They comfort one another in sadness. They have fun together, and they care deeply about each other. No matter what happens, they know that they are there for each other.

I don’t think I will ever fully understand the relationship between my three girls. It rips my heart out when I hear them tell one another that they hate each other, and it brings me to tears when I see them cuddled together on the couch, sharing a bowl of popcorn while they watch a favorite show. God does work in mysterious ways. He never gave me the sister I longed for, but he made me the mother of sisters; and somehow, I think that’s even better.

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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 book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner.  Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

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)

Longing for Laura’s Little House

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The Ingalls homesite outside of DeSmet, SD

Yesterday, February 7, most people went about their day as usual. Some discussed politics, others avoided it.  Many went to school and work and attended sporting events, meetings, or other things in between. While some families ate their evening meal together, others raced to a game, meeting, or  get-together.  Most of us went to bed in a warm, cozy bed with heat flowing throughout out two-story houses.  Most people probably didn’t note the date or the significance of the year.  But perhaps a few, like myself, actually noticed the social media “trending items,” and found themselves taken back to a place and time in American history that had a profound impact on our lives and brings to mind a nostalgic warm and comforting feeling, one that recalls someone few of us ever met but is as familiar to many as a dear old friend.

Few book or television series have captured the hearts of America like the one that took place in the woods of Wisconsin, then the prairies of Kansas, and later, the plains of Minnesota and Dakota.  As a child, my mother and I spent hours reading together, and I never missed my Monday night date with the young girl I loved as dearly as my closest friends and family.  Yesterday was her 150th birthday, and I have to wonder how she could possibly have aged when, in my mind, she will always be a young, energetic half-pint with braids.  

Much has been learned about Laura Ingalls Wilder since her death.  We know that her family did not live in isolation and were not wholly self-sufficient.  They were often surrounded by other pioneers and townsfolk.  We know that Laura’s family had a grave mistrust of the government and that Laura was an introvert, often hiding away from the public due to her extreme shyness and fear of being around people.  Quite the opposite of her mother, it was Laura’s daughter, Rose, who convinced her mother to write the stories of her life at a time when the family was starving and on the verge of losing what little they had.  I like to think that it was Laura’s pioneering spirit that inspired her to become an author at the age of 65 rather than falling into despair and giving up after a long, hard life fraught with illness, poverty, and, no doubt, despair.  How ironic that it was all of the those attributes of her childhood that endeared her and her family to so many generations of people.  

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My girls and others learning about school in the late 1800s in Laura’s one room schoolhouse

Times have changed, the West was won, women moved beyond the classroom to the boardroom, and families today are often too busy to eat a meal together.  Never mind spending a winter trapped inside their home, with little to eat and a small fire to keep them warm, as a blizzard rages outside of their home on the wide-open prairie with few people around other than each other.  Mothers are no longer tied to their stoves, laundry, and sewing 24 hours a day with no relief.  Fathers no longer have to hunt to put food on the table.  Most children don’t walk to school and then return home to work the farm and read the Bible by candlelight at night.  These are the things that our great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents worked so hard to move away from, but I have to wonder…

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Morgan, Rebecca, and Katie doing laundry like Ma at the Ingalls homesite

Had Laura and her sisters not suffered so many illnesses that left childbearing hard to impossible;  had she and Almonzo been able to have a big family; had Rose married and had children…. would their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren appreciate how much we have gained but how much we have lost as the generations have rolled by?   Would they embrace the rat race that so many of us run each day, or would they yearn for the harder yet simpler lives that Laura, Mary, and Carrie had with Pa and Ma and baby, Grace?  Would they have a greater appreciation for how far our nation has come and sadness for how far we’ve slipped behind?

This has been a very mild winter here in the Mid-Atlantic, and I yearn for just one winter like the one that Laura’s family braved during The Long Winter.  I long for just a few days trapped in the house with my girls, perhaps without electricity, without contact with the outside world, without the demands of our normal, every day lives.  How I miss the days of my own childhood when nothing mattered more than the number of lightning bugs we could catch as we ran through the woods and the farm fields surrounding my grandparent’s house.  How I cherish the memories of snuggling with my mother while we read together and later, with my own girls as I read to them.  Perhaps, if Laura were here to celebrate her birthday now, she would marvel at the lives we live today.  Or perhaps, she would long to return to the days when her family had little more than love in their Little House on the Prairie.

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 book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner; and her most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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), Island of Miracles (2017)