Choosing the Good Life

2020 GuatemalaEarlier, I saw a meme online that said, “We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it good or bad.” What a simple but profound statement. 

We are all born into a certain life. Some are born and then a new life is chosen for them. But for all of us, we don’t have any say in where we come from. Some are born to wealth and others to poverty. Some are born into fame while some obscurity. Some are born free while others are born into captivity of one kind of another. No matter where one starts, there are millions of choices as to where one ends up.

Let me tell you a short story… Read more

Where is Thy Sting?

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Corinthians 15:55

Visiting Granny (23)I’ve been thinking about these words as I help my girls prepare for their end-of-summer exodus. I know that, in many ways, the first days after my baby has left for college will be as solemn and quiet as those first dark days after a death. We will mourn the loss of our girls, long to hear their laughter, feel the sting of loneliness at mealtimes and evening family time. There will be no giggles interrupting my sleep in the late hours of the night, no fighting sleep as I wait up until curfew to make sure everyone is safely tucked in bed. I will miss the companionship of my now-adult children. I don’t look forward to solitary meals when Ken is away.

On the other hand… Read more

Embracing Change

I’ve always felt like I’m in the minority here, but I love change. I welcome change. I open my arms to it and let it fill me with possibility. Like the beloved nanny who appears on the winds of change, you never know what’s going to happen when there’s a shift in the current dynamic. Rather than cower and despair when change is upon us, I see things the way that Mary Poppins sees them, “We’re on the brink of an Adventure. Don’t spoil it by asking questions” (P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins Comes Back).

Life is all about change. 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

A Love Without End

hands.JPGHow deep is your love for your spouse? How far would you go to show them you love them? The Lord told us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. I don’t think Jesus’ words refer only to physical death. There are many ways that we can lay down our lives for our loved ones. I would like to share with you the most beautiful example that I know.

A little over a year ago, Ken and I met a kind and gentle man named George on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Most of the travelers were there with their spouses, some with friends, a few with their daughters, but George was alone. At least, it seemed that way at first. But as we all got to know one another, we realized that George was never alone. In his pocket, next to his heart, he carried with him the photograph of his beloved, Josi. The trip to the Holy Land was one that they had wanted to make together, but while George joined us, Josie lay in a bed in the nursing home, where she had been for most of her fifties, suffering from early onset dementia. When we all renewed our wedding vows at Cana, George stood, holding his photo of Josi, and renewed his vows with us, as faithfully committed as ever to his bride.

Unfortunately, Josi’s story is not unique, but George’s is.  In today’s world, George would be seen as having every right to abandon Josie, to let others take care of her, to begin dating once she supposedly forgot who he was, even to find a “kind” doctor to help Josi “alleviate her suffering.” But even close to 10 years after Josie begin to fail, George refused to turn his back on her. He could be found every night, sitting by her side, holding her hand, brushing her hair, reading to her, and praying with her. Everything George did, every plan he made, was done with Josie in mind. She was always first in his life no matter where she was, or what she was or was not able to do, say, or feel. George knew, without a doubt, that Josi heard him, listened to him, and responded to with with the squeeze of her hand or a look in her eyes.

This past weekend, the Gospel reading was the story of the death and raising of Lazarus. Our priest pointed out to us that Jesus never once used the word “death” when referring to his friend. He said that Lazarus was merely asleep and called him to awaken. Father told us that we should take Jesus’ words to heart. When we go to sleep, we enter another realm of consciousness and awake refreshed, renewed, and reinvigorated, ready to live life to its fullest. Thus is the same for death. We fall asleep only to awaken to a new life, renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated to live in the fulness of life with Christ.

How fitting that this was the Gospel that was read around the world on the last day that Josi spent on earth. For years, she slept, being renewed and refreshed, being prepared to live out eternity with the Lord. She was a gift to the world, a witness to the will of God rather than the will of society. George’s love for Josi, poured out in all that he did, and his faith and trust in the Lord, sends a powerful message to all those who know him. George never lost faith that Josi knew him, was aware of his presence, and knew how much he loves her. And he never lost faith that God was with him every step of the way, no matter how hard, no matter how desperate. George knew from the beginning that the road ahead would be hard, that there would be heartbreaking moments that he could never foresee, that many days would be dark and rough.  But he held Josi’s hand and walked her journey with her, always seeing the light and glory at the end, always trusting that his love for her, and God’s love for them both, would never fail.

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”  Isaiah 42:16

Ken and I have become very close to George over the past year, and by extension, to Josi. We have visited with George in New York many times, and he has come to our home to share family celebrations with us. Our girls have fallen in love with George and consider him as much a family member as all of their blood relatives. He has brought much joy to our family, but more than that, he has brought hope. He allowed us to share in his love for Josi as well as his unwavering faith. He taught us all so much about love, acceptance, trust, and faith. May you all have a George in your life, and may you all experience an unfailing love like the love between George and Josi.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: The Agony of the College Search.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  Eight Things Whole-hearted, Creative Women do Differently  by blogger, Emily Freeman, How Women Use Body Language To Beat The Double-Bind Paradox by Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. (Leadership and Management)The Simple Reason Why Goodreads Is So Valuable to Amazon by Jordan Weissman (The Atlantic). 

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 has just been awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. 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)

Seeking the Silver Lining

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Recently, I sat in my car outside of a local pool waiting to hear whether or not Morgan’s swim meet was going to be cancelled. I was shocked when I saw Morgan climb onto the block and dive into the pool as the wind whipped through my open windows and the clouds darkened to a ominous, charcoal color. Were they actually letting the kids go into the water? Was nobody going to acknowledge the coming storm? Why weren’t they cancelling the meet? The weather was predicted to get worse as the evening went on. 

I sat and watched the clouds roll in, and raindrops began to ping on my windshield, growing more intense each second. It occurred to me that so many people go through life without acknowledging the coming storms. They look straight ahead with blinders on, oblivious to the gathering clouds and flashes of lightning. They close their ears to the crashing thunder and the howling wind. And then they’re shocked when they end up soaked and seeking shelter in a place where there is no place to go. 

I’m not a worrier, never have been. I keep my chin up and my spirits bright. God carries my worries, and my burden is light. However, I am always keeping my eye to the sky, recognizing that having faith and being prepared is not the same as being oblivious to the storm. 

We are entering hurricane season. Yes, it’s August, but I’m speaking about a separate hurricane season, one from which nobody in this country will escape no matter where they live. Our world is in crisis. Our politicians act shocked that things have gone this far – that terrorists are striking daily in major cities all over the world, that the people sworn to protect us aren’t always the good guys, and that the ones who are the good guys are being targeted and struck down as if they are a disease that must be eradicated. 

I wish I knew the answer, a simple way to stop the hatred, the distrust, the fear. I wish we had a better crop of politicians who would unite our nation and allow every person, from the unborn to the elderly, to live with dignity and respect. I wish we could all see past colors and borders and love everyone as God calls us to do. When will we come out of this storm and see the silver lining? At this time, I don’t see an end to the bad weather, and it is frightening. I find myself constantly relying on my faith, trusting that, somehow, things will get better, that the clouds will clear, the sun will shine, and the world will be washed clean for everyone to come out and enjoy it together.

Against all predictions, and my own misgivings, the sun did come out that evening, and the swim meet went on as planned. While I still believe that we need to be prepared and watch for the coming storms, I was reminded that night that it’s sometimes even more important to just have faith that all will turn out the way it was meant to be. Carry your umbrella, but have faith that the clouds will part, and trust that the storms will lead to a sunnier tomorrow.

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 eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

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)

Just Thinking About Tomorrow

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When I was a little girl, I attended my first major Broadway musical and spent the following few weeks memorizing every word to every song.  I’ve never stopped singing those songs and enjoyed watching Rebecca and then Katie play roles in school and community productions of the same play.  As a child, I’m not sure I realized how many lessons I was learning cast-001from the little orphan girl who took in a stray dog and softened the heart of a grouchy, old millionaire, but I have always remembered and adhered to her words “the sun will come out tomorrow.”

As I watched the morning news on Saturday, I saw updates on the terror attacks in Mali, new terror threats to Brussels, and sparring politicians across this great nation.  But here is the thing that struck me the most – the people of Paris gathered in the streets this past weekend for a public street party to show the world that they will not stay home, that life goes on.  Almost fifteen years after 9/11, we can all attest to that.  Things change, people are lost, the world is shaken, but the sun still rises, and human beings continue living, striving for the best, reaching for the stars, and living the good life as best they can. Read more

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.  Read more