For weeks now, I’ve listened to all sides of the debate about which lives matter. For months, I’ve tried to have an open mind about COVID-19 and all of the conflicting information. For years, I’ve tried to be empathetic to various groups of people, listen to them, and learn about them. I’ve attempted to engage others in discussion so that we can benefit from what the other has to say. I do belong to a political party, but I listen to all sides, watch various news agencies, and research voraciously to find the truth and assemble the facts. I’m not afraid to call out things that are incorrect, but I’m not too proud to listen, learn, and be told that I’m wrong.
I say all of this not to toot my own horn but to point out something that is missing in our world today, something so vital that I firmly believe it holds the key to everything, to solving all problems, to helping all people, and to enabling all groups to get along and work together.
For several generations, we’ve all been told something that is wrong, just wrong. Blatantly wrong, egregiously wrong, simply, basically, and morally wrong. We’ve all heard the advice, that has now become a rule, over and over over again, and that advice is the one thing that is at the crux of all the problems we have now. We have created generations of people who have been given the very worst piece of advice to follow in an intelligent, literate, and innovative society.
We have all been told from the earliest age… Read more →
These are strange and trying times we are living in. We go from months of being isolated from the world to having the world marching outside our windows in our streets and throughout our cities and small towns, not sitting still but sitting in to stand up for justice. We have lost trust in the news, we have lost trust in some of the medical experts, and we have lost trust in each other. But the larger failing of the human race, the one that has led all of us to this moment is a greater loss–the loss of love, the fundamental loss of just loving each other, for love is the only thing that can win in this fight, and it has to be the kind of love that is the pure, unselfish, dying to self kind of love. We must imitate the greatest of all loves…Read more →
We have 325 days, from the time Lent ends one year until it begins the next year, to think about what we will do; yet here I am once again, as always, still trying to figure it out on Ash Wednesday. After all of these years on this earth, you would think I’d be better at this. You would think that I would have a list of a dozen things to choose from. Give up this, add that, emphasize this, read that. But no, it never comes easily for me. I struggle with the Lenten decision well into the forty days, always wondering if I’ve made the right choice, if it’s having any effect on me, if it’s at all pleasing to God.
And I realize that it’s not just during Lent that this happens. And it’s not just me. It’s not just Catholics or other Lent-observing Christians. I think we all spend 365 days a year questioning ourselves, our actions, and our intentions, wondering if we are doing the right thing, using the right words, making the right choices, and spending our time wisely.
I ask myself, why do I always doubt and worry whether what I do or say is good enough?
And then it dawns on me, and I wonder, is it really that simple? Is it true that all we have to do is… Read more →
I spent this past weekend in Houston, Texas, with eight of my closest friends. It was a reunion we’d all been looking forward to since last August. Our group spans the US from north to south and almost from east to west. We all have very busy lives, but we make it a point to plan get-togethers with each other as often as we can with at least one large group gathering every year.
This past week marked the four-year anniversary since we first met on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and what did we do to celebrate? We ate–a LOT– we had a few drinks, we failed to escape an escape room, we went to Mass together, we did a little shopping, and we laughed as much as we ate.
But what we did the most was talk.
We talked and talked and talked. And when we ran out of things to say…Read more →
Many years ago, Ken and I became certain that our oldest daughter would grow up to be an attorney. My aunt once called her ‘strong-willed.’ Her teachers said she was ‘gifted.’ As a child, her debate and reasoning skills were beyond compare for her age. Even after skipping a grade, she continued to show wisdom beyond her years with her ability to apply logic to any situation.
Without prompting from us, Rebecca joined the Mock Trial team in high school and then captained her Mock Trial team in college. The local attorneys who stood in as judges at her school meets labeled her ‘the bulldog.’ Standing up in a courtroom, facing a judge, and arguing a case fueled her intense passion, not only for the law but for what was right and wrong, just and unjust, fair and unfair.
The only thing that had us questioning her career path was her extreme empathy. Was she tough enough to be an attorney? Did she have thick enough skin to fight for her clients without becoming emotionally involved? Was her honesty and integrity best served in another sector? Was this really the right path for her?
As I write this, it is December 31st, the last day of 2019, a day of celebration, of ushering out the old and in the new, of resolutions and promises and hope for a better tomorrow. As I look back over the past year, a tidal wave of emotions sweeps over me. So many ups, so many downs, much laughter, many tears, and a multitude of mistakes.
It is the dawning of a new year, a fresh start. What is it I want to take with me as I leave this year behind and leap into a new year?
I recently heard someone say that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her faith. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. Here we are, in the midst of the Christmas shopping season, and I hear that the greatest gift someone received from her parents was the gift of faith. Not an Apple Watch, not a laptop, not a designer bag or piece of jewelry, but the simplest of gifts–the ability to believe what is not seen and embrace it, the courage to trust in God, and the knowledge that there is a glorious new life awaiting us.
I thought to myself, how true it is that the greatest gift we can pass down is easy and free to give, but then I realized, faith is not easy and it’s not free… Read more →
The other day, I was in my bedroom, working out to an exercise video. Normally, Rosie goes into Ken’s office with him while I workout. However, this particular morning, Ken was working remotely, and knowing how much Rosie hates being left alone, I let her come in the room with me. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had made a big mistake… Read more →
“We get so wrapped up in numbers in our society. The most important thing is that we are able to be one-to-one, you and I with each other at the moment. If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that’s what’s important.” Fred Rogers
This morning, I read an article about the spiraling attendance at professional sporting events. I expected the article to say that the reasons for this were high prices, disappointed fans (yes, I am a Washington Redskins fan), or lack of interest, but I can’t say I was surprised to read that the decline is actually attributed to… Read more →
Is anyone else feeling nostalgic or sentimental as the school year quickly fades away? Wasn’t it just yesterday that the school year started? Or just last week that my baby began kindergarten? Yet here she is, about to graduate and embark on a grand new adventure. The older I get, the more I realize that everything slips too quickly from our grasp, and I am led to wonder how can I make it stop? How can I slow down time? How can I make sure I don’t miss a thing? I once read something by Bishop Robert Barron in which he said, “An image that always comes to mind when I think of these things is the gorgeous firework that bursts open like a giant flower and then, in the twinkling of an eye, is gone forever. Everything is haunted by nonbeing.” Yet this is not necessarily a bad thing, this reminder that all things fall into nonbeing. It can be a truly good and wonderful thing.
But how? How can thinking about this nonbeing be a blessing?
What is it that we appreciate about a sunrise? Is it the beauty? The reminder of God’s promise of a new day? The knowledge that it will happen again tomorrow and the next day and the next day? Or is it something more? Could it be that we long for that brief moment in time when all is good and peaceful in the world? Perhaps the sunrise happens the way it does–every morning at a known time but each occurrence unique–because we are meant to marvel at the sight for just those few minutes before it becomes mundane, just another sunny day. Don’t we all long for that tiny bit of time when everything around us is quiet and still and breathtaking?
We live in a world where everything moves quickly. Our days speed by in a flash of commotion, and we are left trying to catch our breath, wondering how it could all be over so fast. We forget that, in all things, there can be found a moment of peace. We don’t even look for it or think about, and when the event, or the day, or the year, or life has come to an end, we wonder if that elusive pause ever happened at all. How did my baby become an 18-year-old adult? How have I been married for over twenty-five years? How can my father be 82?
Yet if we stop and close our eyes, and allow the world to become quiet, we can see all of the things that brought us to where we are. We can remember the pauses–the peace, quiet, stillness, and breathtaking moments. We spend each day working, running from here to there, always trying to stay one step ahead of something or someone, and we long for respite. Luckily, we can find it! As we read in Psalms, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalms 127:2).
All of the chaos, all of the toiling, this race we constantly find ourselves in will come to and end, as all things do. When we reach our Heavenly reward, we will finally be able to rest. But do we really have to wait until then? I don’t believe so.
And that brings me to the blessing of the nonbeing, the nonbeing that we must accept here and now and find a way to make it mean something so that it doesn’t have to result in nothing. How?
We can take a pause in the morning or evening to marvel at the sunrise or the sunset.
We can ooh and aah at a fireworks display.
We can hold that newborn, kiss her sweet-smelling forehead, and take in the scent of her newness.
We can celebrate every milestone, every birthday, graduation, anniversary, new job, or new adventure.
We can remind ourselves every day that we are to look for those precious moments of peace and savor them.
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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 Miraclesare all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vineswas awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracleshas 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.