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.

My Favorite Story

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001Recently, a friend of Morgan’s asked me to tell her the story of how Ken and I met.  I laughed when she said “It’s my favorite story.”  Apparently the girls have told the story to their friends, and they all find it so romantic.  I guess it is romantic, but to me, it’s just “our story.”  In honor of Ken’s birthday this coming Friday, I thought I’d share the tale with you.

The summer after I graduated from college, I was an attendee at a national political convention.  The very first day, the Maryland Delegation boarded a bus to the convention center.  I was alone and did not know a soul other than my mother’s dear friend, Joyce, who helped me gain a spot within the group.  I boarded the bus and watched the delegates and guests climb onto the bus and take their seats.  When a nice-looking young man started down the aisle, someone from the back called his name, and I recognized the young man – he attended the same college I had and was well-known on the Shore as the youngest person to ever be elected to the Maryland Legislature.  He happened to sit in front me, and never one to be shy, I tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself as a fellow student at SU.  Though he laughs at it now and likes to deny it, Ken told me later that he knew that very instant that he was going to marry me.

For the rest of the week, every time I turned around, Ken was there.  He boarded the bus after I did, went to the same tourist attractions I visited, and was always waiting at the entrance of the convention center to “guide” me through security and onto the floor of the convention (of course, this was long before 9-11, and security was not what it is today).  Ken’s campaign manager, his former high school government teacher, was his guest at the convention.  Mr. Kleen (yes, that was his name, and he was tall and bald) has passed on since that week many years ago, but he loved to tell the tale of how he finally caught on to Ken’s “hurry up and wait” behavior that had the two of them arriving early each morning, only to sit and wait until Ken said it was time to board the bus.  Eventually Mr. Kleen realized what was going on and became part of the game to seek me out.

On the very last day of our trip, the three of us shared a taxi to the airport.  We were on different flights, but Ken had already come up with a plan to stay in touch.  In those days, there were no digital cameras, of course, so Ken suggested that we exchange addresses in order to share our pictures from the convention.  That began a period of letter writing in which we got to know each other from opposite sides of the state.  The first time my mother met Ken, she was sure that he was going to be some old man who had the hots for her daughter.  I guess I forgot to tell her that he was just a year older than I was.

Within three months, I knew I was in love.  On the night before Valentine’s Day, just seven months later, Ken proposed.  We were married just eight months later with special permission from my Priest to skip the one year wait period usually required by the Church.  After all, the election season would be in full swing soon, and we had to take advantage of the time we had.

This October, we will have been married for twenty-two years.  My, how time flies!  Soon our oldest daughter will graduate from college, and we will watch as some young man sweeps her off of her feet the way her father swept me off of mine.  Our beginning was every girl’s fantasy, our wedding was a true fairy tale kind of event, and our marriage has been what dreams are made of.  I can only imagine what the next fifty years will bring, but I know that we will happily share them together.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and 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. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.  Amy’s next mystery, Picture Me, will be released in August of 2015 and will be available in stores and online.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Fine Wine

 This afternoon, my husband, his sister, and I had the chance to visit a vineyard. What an amazing place with many, many years of operational history. Out of all of the steps taken to produce the number one wine in the country, the step that amazed me the most was the very first one. In order to ensure that every single grape is absolutely perfect, the vitner hand picks only the perfect grapes from the vine. All of the grapes are used in what he termed “every day wine,” but the award winning wine is made only from these hand picked grapes. What love and care must go into that process! Imagine spending the hottest days of the entire year, the first days of August, outside in the blazing sun, painstakingly choosing only the very best grapes – not too heavy with juice, perfectly colored, and without blemish. 

I wonder if there has ever been anything in my life that I have done with that amount of thought and care. Perhaps the slideshow I made for Rebecca’s graduation or the photo album I secretly made of my husband’s life story a few years ago, or going farther back, the cross-stitched poems I made for my mother and mother-in-law and presented to them the night before my wedding. There is no doubt that I did those things out of love and that they took hours, even months to complete, but I’m not sure that compares to standing in the hot sun all day and into the night to pick hundreds of only the most perfect fruit for someone else to enjoy. Yes, it’s his vineyard, his livelihood, but still, wouldn’t any bunch of grapes do?

Of course, the answer is no. And why? Because the vitner saw the production of the best wine as something so important, so magnificent, that he couldn’t bear to use anything but the most perfect grapes. He took such care and such pride in his work, his vineyard, and his wine that his enthusiasm radiated from him. I’d like to believe that it provided a new outlook on life for me, a new way to approach a task. I can’t help but to ask myself if any task done with that much love and care and attention could turn out to be anything other than a work of prize-winning perfection. Certainly there’s a lesson in there for us all. 

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and 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. Her previously published 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 and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com