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.

Whole novels have been based on it: Gone With the Wind, 1984, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Musicals take a bow to it: The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wizard of Oz.

History is made by it: The birth of Christ, the reign of King Henry the VIII, the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I could go on and on.

Change, like the weather, is sometimes unpredictable but always inevitable. Who, under the age of 55, can’t recite Robert Frost’s classic poem as immortalized by Ponyboy Curtis in the Outsiders?

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Some see the poem as a reference to youth, others to death. I like to think of it as a homage to change. It’s a reminder that nothing stays the same. Everyone ages, people pass away, the sun rises and sets, the earth continues to evolve, the calendar succumbs to the end of another year, and we are meant to accept all these things and move on.

January brings with it many opportunities–a new year, new resolutions, a new chance to become a better person, to try new things, to make new friends, to engage more fully in this thing called life. To many, those things are daunting, even overwhelming. We often hear, “nobody likes change,” and truthfully, change can be hard. It can frightening. It can lead to chaos. However, those who embrace change and find a way to either create it or capitalize on it, are often the ones who change the world.

Nelson Mandela

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saint Paul

Abraham Lincoln

Simon Bolivar

Queen Victoria

Galileo

Leonardo da Vinci

Pope John Paul II

The list in endless.

So, I encourage you. Greet the new year with excitement, and embrace the changes that come your way–a new job, a new school, a new boss, a new home, a new city. Whatever life throws at you, seize the golden moment, the sunrise as well as the sunset–the beginnings and the endings. And when the changes you encounter cause you to retreat and reassess, take that as a sign that it’s time to react. As a very wise man once said,

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi).

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Our Future is Going Up In Smoke.

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.

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).

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?

In a world full of chaos, where everyone seems only to be out for themselves, it’s tremendously comforting to me that God is there. He listens. He offers comfort, help, and hope. Even when I am too distraught to offer my own prayers, I know that the prayers said on my behalf, by friends and family, are reaching a merciful God who knows me, knows my innermost thoughts and feelings, and knows what I need even when I don’t. I’m not always perfect when it comes to prayer, not even close. I often let life get in the way. I don’t always remember to talk to God during those rare, quiet moments of the day when He is listening, hoping, that I will reach out to him. I often fall asleep in the middle of my evening prayers and wake with the knowledge that God knows all things, even those left unsaid. But despite my short-fallings, my failures, my forgetfulness, and even my selfishness, God is there and is waiting for my call for help.

May God’s hand reach down into the lives of those caught in the storm, Michael and otherwise. May they feel His comfort and His healing touch. May we be touched by the Holy Spirit and know that, no matter how dark or frightful things become, God will calm the storm, and He will bring light to a new day.Sunset2

What I was writing about a year ago this week: A Little Time to Spare.

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

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 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/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 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.

For every eight people who leave this world, there are nineteen babies born.

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There are approximately 13,000 terror attacks somewhere in the world each year, but 2.3 million weddings per year take place in the US alone.

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Somewhere in the world today, a child is having a birthday party,

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a school is welcoming grandparents,

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multi-generational families are giving thanks,

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a group of friends are worshiping together,

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a family is taking home a new pet,

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a farmer is tending to his field,DSC02490-001

and a concert is being attended.

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People are still climbing to new heights,

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steering toward the goals,

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breaking new strides,

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and celebrating their achievements.

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And every single night, we go to bed with the knowledge that no matter what happens in the world, the sun will come up tomorrow.

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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.  Worry like that can be crippling, immobilizing, even life-threatening.  So what’s a mother to do?

We all came to the same conclusion.  It’s not a perfect one, but it’s all we can do.  We have to hope for the best, put our trust in God, and love our children fiercely every day.  We can’t lock our children in a tower (that never works in Fairy Tales), and we can’t live our lives in constant fear, nor do we want to teach our children to live their lives in constant fear.  We want them and ourselves actually LIVING!  So we have no other choice but to teach them right and wrong, instill in them a solid set of values and morals, and pray for them every day.

Looking back, every single bad decision I’ve ever made in my life, whether as a child, a teen, or an adult, was made out of fear.  What if they don’t like me?  What if he won’t love me?  What if I don’t do that, say that, try that?  The question was always based in fear, and the decision was always disastrous, if not then, than later down the road.  However, every decision I ever made with confidence that it was the right thing to do, was made with complete trust – trust in friends, my loved ones, my husband, God.  And those decisions have never come back to haunt me.

Years ago, Ken and I were at a crossroads in our lives.  Our children were attending a school that they hated.  I had to forcibly put Katie on the bus every day and jump off as the bus driver closed the door while Katie cried and pounded on the windows.  She was eight years old, not a young child, and the knowledge that she was so unhappy was heart-breaking.  It was my first year staying at home and attempting to become a published author when Ken decided to leave his job.  The position had created so much stress for him that I feared for his health, but what would we do?  After a few months, our small savings was almost gone and we had three children to feed.  While we were talking over the situation one night, my husband had the craziest idea, and I mean crazy.  He said to me, “You’ve always wanted them in Catholic school, so maybe it’s time.”  I looked at him like he had lost his mind.  “We have no money, no jobs, and no way of knowing what our future holds, but you want to put all three girls into a private school thirty minutes from our home?”  He said yes.  But how?

We went to the school the very next day and talked over our situation with the principal.  She had known us for years from church and was thrilled that we wanted the girls there.  She was willing to take our applications and hold spots for them until we figured out what we were going to do.  It was March, so we had several months before school started, but we needed a plan, or even a sign.  When and how would we know what was the right decision?  We talked some more and decided that the best route to take was the one shown to us by God.  Ken had several interviews set up, so we said to God, “It’s all in your hands.”  If Ken was offered a job with a salary the same or lower than what he was making at his previous job, the girls would stay put, and we would somehow find a way to manage the situation.  If, however, Ken was making anything at all above his last salary, we would take that proverbial leap of faith.

I will never forget the day the call came.  It was May, school was almost out, our applications were on hold, and the girls were wondering where they would be that fall.  I was hanging clothes on the line in the backyard.  Drying inside the house was expensive and hot, so the air conditioning stayed off, and the clothes hung outside.  I had thrown our portable phone in the basket and had to dig through the wet clothes to find it when it started ringing.  “Call the school,” Ken announced with joy.  I was stunned.  He was in Boston, on his way to the airport after a job interview, and I had been waiting to hear how it went.  “They offered me my dream job.  We can stay in Maryland, and I can work at home.”  “And?” I asked.  “And the pay is what I was making plus to the penny, to the penny,” he emphasized, “exactly what we need to pay the tuition.”  I was overjoyed.  I couldn’t wait to tell the girls the good news.

We’ve been at Saints Peter and Paul for almost ten years now.  Rebecca graduated with honors and went on to a wonderful college.  Katie and Morgan have many friends and are receiving an outstanding education.  But even more important is that they are all happy.  Correction, we are all happy.  Who knows what would have happened if we had not taken that leap of faith and trusted in God.  “Be not afraid,” appears more times than any other phrase in the Bible.  The message is simple.  Whether or not we hear it can make all the difference in the world.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / 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. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  Her 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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.