A World of Kindness

Have you ever met someone who exuded kindness like the smell of a cherry pie in an open window on a summer day? This is a person whose eyes catch you, twinkle, and without words, bid you a good day. The kind of person who holds out his hand to help you down from a bus, or pulls out a chair for you, or offers to carry your suitcase even though he has one of his own. The kind of person who talks little about himself or herself but offers to listen, without judgement, to whatever is on your mind, offering a smile and encouraging word. As I’ve said before, kindness is all that really matters, and meeting a truly kind person can alter your attitude, your day, even your life. How often do you meet such a person? Once a day? Once a month? Once in a lifetime? 

Wouldn’t it be nice to meet someone like that in every encounter you have?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be that someone to others?

What would that world look like? Read more

Professionalism Gone Awry

imagesIs it just me, or is the world of professionalism taking a decidedly non-professional turn? Several times in the past couple weeks or so, I’ve witnessed a breakdown in the level of professional courtesy. And I’m not just talking about at restaurants or in the grocery store, though some of those places have their issues with professionalism as well (remember when the customer was always right?). I’ve seen and heard people at pretty high levels of businesses or organizations treating colleagues and customers with a disturbing lack of respect.

It seems that everywhere, from local mom and pop businesses to national organizations and even professional writers’ groups, there is a dire need for education in how you treat or speak to people. Last week, I received an email about an upcoming training for a particular organization that was so snide and condescending, I had to go back and reread it, trying to see if I was taking it out of context or with a bias to the situation. Sadly, no, the problem was not a misunderstanding of the tone of the email, which can happen so easily with technology these days, but with the actual words that were used. There is no doubt that it was meant to be snide and condescending. Point taken. But did they really have to go there?

Elsewhere, I witnessed someone asking a question about a professional writing project that is in the process of being put together. The answer given, to the perfectly harmless and totally understandable question, was as kind and helpful as a slap in the face. Was that really necessary? Is it too hard to kindly answer a question that others may also be wondering? One can certainly be assertive and frank while still being tactful, can’t they?

I’m at a loss as to how to explain the shift that I see happening more and more these days. Is it social media? Loss of moral education? Fewer liberal arts colleges which typically require classes in ethics? Too many exhausted parents who just don’t have the time or the desire to teach politeness? Politicians, athletes, and other celebrities who are rude and crass and don’t stop to think or even care that they are role models? Is it just that we’ve become so self-centered as a people that we really don’t care anymore how we treat others? 

I recently came across a blog that gives a list of what the writer sees as tantamount professional behavior. A similar list can be found in a newspaper article I read online. I agree with everything on these lists, but I’d like to take it a step farther. While the newspaper article wraps up the list with the advice, “Set good examples…within your organization,” I say that’s not enough. Professionalism begins with everyday, ordinary kindness, and that begins at home. I vow to make a renewed effort to set good examples at home. I will try to always speak to my children with kindness; say please, thank you, and you’re welcome to everyone; show respect to all others; take responsibility for my actions; and never say something rude or hurtful to anyone. I will insist that my children work to do the same. I hope that you will all take that vow with me. I’d like to think that we are just one generation away from returning civility, kindness, and professionalism to all aspects of our lives.

Are you looking for a new way to meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent? If so, check out the newly revised edition of Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms. You can order it in print or download the ebook version today!

What I was writing about this time last year:  Becoming the Learners

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)

A World Without God

My father is a firm believer that we are living in a world without God and that God, angry with us, is showing us His wrath. I don’t believe in a vengeful, wrath-filled God. Jesus dispelled that when He was here on earth. However, I do believe that, where God is not welcome, evil fills the void. We, as a nation, have turned our backs on God. He is not wanted in our schools, our government, our hospitals, our military, our public spaces. I daresay, He is not welcome in many private spaces either. We have shoved Him out of our lives and left the door wide open for evil to enter in and take up residence. 

I don’t care if you believe in Satan or demons or anything like that. That’s a theological debate that has been ongoing for centuries. However, there can be no doubt that, call it what you will, there is pure evil in the world. How else do you describe a massacre like the one that just took place on Las Vegas? If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is. Murders, rapes, drug addiction, family violence, and a horde of other evils plague us every day, and it’s only getting worse. How can one not label that the work of an evil presence in our midst?

We live in world where God is mocked, where people are told to do as they wish, where pleasure is seen as the only thing worth obtaining, and where we value things, including celebrity and power, over virtues. We live in a world where people claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” What does that even mean? I was fascinated by the most recent results of the Pew Research Center study of religious landscapes. Those who said they were “spiritual but not religious” were mostly under 40, unmarried, childless, and making less than $100,000 per year. Most had some college or less. Almost 85% rarely or never attend any kind of religious service. 

Why do I bring this up? Because I think it’s a good snapshot of where we are in America today. We have lost our foundation. So many young people are no longer getting married and are choosing to have one child or none. Many never read or hear or learn about God. And while the vast majority of these “spiritual” people believe in God (over 91%), they really have no idea what or who God is, how to relate to Him, or why He is important. We are raising a generation of people who believe that they are their own god, that only their decisions matter, and that being “happy” can only be found through self-gratification. Is it any wonder that evil can so easily slip into and become commonplace in our lives?

St FrancisThe next question is, what can we do to combat the evil that has taken up residence in our world? The answer is so simple it sounds trite, impossible even. Be kind. Be loving. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. BE CHRIST. Be Christ to everyone. More than once, I’ve written a few blogs about bringing peace, being a person of encouragement, and kindness (Be Kind and “In the End, Only Kindness Matters”). Many others have as well, but a few words written down will never make a difference. What will make a difference is you and me and others, spending every day of our lives trying to make this world a better place. On this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, let’s all strive to be instruments of peace, to treat other with kindness and respect, and to be Christ to the world. 

I pray for the people killed and injured in Las Vegas. I pray for those suffering throughout our country and our world. I pray for those who are lost and hopeless. I pray that we find a way to let God back into our lives. He is waiting for us. All we have to do open the door and ask Him to come back in.

230061-Without-God-There-Is-No-Virtue

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Nine Reasons Why Saying Yes is Not a Weakness.

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 was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-sale.

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)

Make a Difference in the World

Have you ever thought about the difference just one person can make in this world? Saint Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Let’s think about just the past few months and the things that have taken place during this time in history. Throughout time, there have been those who have stepped forward, some in very large and others in very small ways, to make a difference.

  • Over 2,000 years ago, a teenage girl simply said yes to God, thus changing the world for all eternity.
  • In 1801, John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and is still considered today one of the greatest Justices in our country’s history.
  • In 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born – talk about a man who made a difference!
  • In 1938, Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, was performed for the first time and influenced every stage production to follow.
  • In 1964, the Beatles released their first American album and changed the course of music in this country forever.
  • In 1981, President Reagan became the oldest President in US history.
  • In 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State.
  • In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President in US History.

Did any of these people believe as children that they would become who they were (or are) as adults? Take Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a preacher, not a movie star or a politician, but he has become the very face of peaceful civil rights in our Country. Though some of these people were men and some women, some were born into prestigious families and some came from the poorest of homes, all of them have something in common. Whether they knew it or not, they all led their lives according to the teaching of Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, takes a centuries old teaching and brings it to life – every little thing you do, every choice you make, affects another person. I have been a mother for over 21 years, a Girl Scout Leader for 14 years, a camp director for 11 years, and a novelist for the past several years. I like to think that I have been able to touch the lives of hundreds of people in some way through one of these channels. Every summer, I see the affect that my wonderful camp staff has on the over 100 girls with whom we work. I have watched my own mother touch the lives of people she probably doesn’t even realize she has influenced, and believe me, there are many, perhaps thousands, who are the people they are today because she came into their lives in some way.

Last week, Morgan and Katie spent the week helping repair houses in Harlan, Kentucky. It was a very moving experience for them. They both came home changed people. So many times theoughout the week, they were thanked, prayed for and with, and told that their group was truly making a difference in the lives of the people they met and helped. While that’s a large endeavor, little things can be done every day to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes, just a smile is enough to change one’s outlook or reroute the course of their day.

How are you making a difference in the world? It doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture; it can be just a stone cast across the waters that causes a ripple. Every one of us has the ability to influence countless people each and every day. What is the mark you are leaving on those around you? In some way, it just may be the mark you are leaving on the world. Make it count.


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 was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.
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.

“In the End, Only Kindness Matters”

Stone heart.jpgI was recently introduced to several songs that have become go-to songs for me. The playlist they make up is the most played one on my phone and in my car. A few of the songs I knew, some from my own youth, and others were new to me but not to the world. All of these songs were featured on last spring’s television event, The Live Passion; and after watching it, I was compelled to buy the soundtrack the very next day. Now, whether I hear one of these songs on my playlist or on the radio, I hear it in a whole new light often picturing where it belongs in the retelling of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. Even though we’re getting ready to enter Advent and not Lent, one of those songs has been on my mind a lot lately. The song, Hands, was sung by Tricia Yearwood in the live show, but it was written and originally sung by Jewel. I don’t know how I missed this when it was first released, but I guess I was simply in a different place in my life, and it didn’t speak to me then like it does now. Here are the lyrics:

If I could tell the world just one thing ~~ It would be that we’re all ok ~~ And not to worry because worry is wasteful ~~ And useless in times like these ~~ I will not be made useless ~~ I won’t be idled with despair ~~ I will gather myself around my faith ~~ For light does the darkness most fear ~~ My hands are small, I know, ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ And I am never broken ~~ Poverty stole your golden shoes ~~ But it didn’t steal your laughter ~~ And heartache came to visit me ~~ But i knew it wasn’t ever after ~~ We will fight, not out of spite ~~ For someone must stand up for what’s right ~~ Cause where there’s a man who has no voice ~~ There ours shall go singing ~~ My hands are small, I know, ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ And I am never broken ~~ In the end only kindness matters ~~ In the end only kindness matters ~~ I will get down on my knees and I will pray ~~ I will get down on my knees and I will pray ~~ I will get down on my knees and I will pray ~~ My hands are small, I know, ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ And I am never broken ~~ My hands are small, i know, ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ But they’re not yours they are my own ~~ And I am never broken ~~ We are never broken ~~ We are God’s eyes God’s hands God’s mind ~~ We are God’s eyes God’s hands God’s heart ~~ We are God’s eyes God’s hands God’s eyes God’s hands ~~ We are God’s hands God’s hands We are God’s hands

Hands, Written by Jewel Kilcher, Patrick Leonard • Copyright © Downtown Music Publishing LLC, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

While there are many reasons why I could be thinking of this song, the main reason is that, lately, I have come to believe that the virtue of kindness is disappearing from our culture, and maybe the world. I see and hear children speaking to each other and to adults with such blatant disrespect, and having no idea that they’re doing it or why it’s wrong, and I think, no wonder we have so many problems in this world. What would the world be like if everyone made a concerted effort, every single day, to just be kind to one another? What if I held my tongue more often before speaking to my husband? What if my daughter thought about how someone else might feel before chastising them? What if a teacher thought about the repercussions on a student because of a cutting comment the teacher uttered in front of the class? What if politicians considered what they are teaching future generations when they do nothing but verbally knock each other down?

St. Paul the Apostle, in his letter to the Galatians, said “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” He outlined the most basic guidelines for how we should act, speak, live, and treat one another. Believe me, I know it’s hard. I struggle with this every day, but there is something that gives me hope. You see, St. Paul didn’t call these the “Rules of the Spirit,” or the “Commands of the Spirit.” He called them the “Fruit of the Spirit.” How beautiful when you think about it. These aren’t the things that we are ordered to do or even the things we will be given outright, but they are what we reap, what we harvest, what we can share with others. If we practice the fruit of the Spirit, then we can spread love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to others, and in return, we should receive all of those back.

I implore you to join me in starting today. Together, let’s think about what we do, what we say, how we act, especially in front of our children. So often, I find myself reminding my own children that they are not being respectful, speaking kindly, or acting with love. In those moments, I wonder if I have set the example for them, if I have failed as a parent. For if I have not taught my children to be kind, then what does it matter what else I have taught them?

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)

Listing for Love

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001I am a list maker.  I’ve been a list maker since I first learned to write and realized the magic that accompanies crossing off things accomplished.  Sometimes, the more I cross off, the more I add to my list. I’ve had a list on my desk for about a month now that lays out all that I want to accomplish this fall.  My Katie laughs when she reads it because one item is “Write a book.”

“You’re always writing a book, Mom, but that’s so cute.”

Yes, I’m always writing a book, but to see it on a list makes it real, makes it something that must be done and must be crossed off.  It’s a means to an end. Read more

What’s Hidden Inside?

IMG_2314I found out yesterday that my beautiful, energetic, happy, and seemingly healthy four-year-old golden retriever has a life threatening heart murmur.  While still in the prime of her life, she will need to see a cardiologist and be put on medication to regulate her heart.  Misty was showing no signs of being sick.  She and her sister, Rosie, chase each other around the yard and the house on a daily basis.  She eats well and has a great disposition.  I never imagined that her routine checkup would reveal a condition that could, at any moment, take her life.

This situation has gotten me thinking about, not just Misty, but others who may have something hidden from the outside world.  We encounter dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people every day.  How many of those people have something going on inside their bodies or in their lives of which we are completely unaware?  How can we possibly know everything that another person is going through? Read more

Be Kind

Cinderella-2015There was a lot of talk a couple of months back about the remake of the movie Cinderella.  My family and I loved the re-telling and its faithfulness to the classic fairy tale.  The thing that has stuck with me the most since seeing the film is the mother’s deathbed advice to Cinderella, “Have courage and be kind.”  Such simple words, but such deep meaning.

I recently came across a short article written about a question posed on Tumblr asking for simple advice: how can I be kind?  The blogger’s answer may surprise some.  In a nutshell, he told the writer to “fake it.”  Yes, you read that right.  The advice was to think about what an actual kind person would do, and just do it.  He suggested that over time, even a horrible person could learn to become kind.  “…There isn’t actually any difference between doing something nice for someone because you are naturally saintly and perfect, and doing something nice for someone because you are secretly demonic and trying to cover it up. It’s still an act of kindness either way, and you still made their lives better” (author, Neil Gaiman).  His advice was to smile, say hello, act interested in what others have to say, and give people the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve thought about this a lot lately.  What if we all did this every day?  What if we pretended not to be in a bad mood, not to be angry at someone, not to be disinterested in what someone is saying?  What if we actually acted like we care about everyone even if we don’t?  Does that sound harsh or even sarcastic?  Perhaps at first, but what if it became a habit?  Maybe in time, we would actually learn to be in a good mood, to quickly get over our anger, to actually find an interest in what others are doing or saying, to truly care about others.  What if our pretending became who we are in reality?  As the song says, what a wonderful world it could be.