Someday, You’ll Understand

Dear Children,
It’s not easy telling you no. I always want to say yes. I want to give you everything your heart desires. I want to hand you the moon and sprinkle it with stars. I want to make all of your dreams come true and let you do whatever you want to do and go wherever you want to go. But I can’t, and there’s a very good reason why…

I can’t because I love you.

Proverrbs 22 6.jpgI’m sure that seems counterintuitive to you. No doubt you think, because I love you, I should allow you to do as you please, have what you want, and make your own terrible decisions. Believe me, that time will come. You will have many, many years to do exactly those things. But for now, it is my job to set boundaries, make rules, set standards, and render consequences. Why? Because it’s how you will learn to set boundaries, make rules, set standards, and understand consequences. Not to mention the fact that you will always have to bend to a higher authority.

There are certain things that you need to understand. The world is not like home. There will not always be someone there to pick you up when you fall. There will not always be a soft place to lay your head, a warm meal placed in front of you, a closet of clothes, or a day without responsibility. There will not always be someone there to tell you the difference between right and wrong.

As you grow, there will be thousands of decisions you will need to make in your life. It’s my job to make sure you have the right tools, and the right morals, to make the right choices. I must set a good example (and sometimes, I fail), and I must teach you why something is right. Nobody else will take the time to teach you what is right, but everybody will be happy to tell you when you’ve done something wrong.

Or not.

Proverbs 6 20.jpgThere will be those who will encourage you to go against all that you’ve been taught. There will be people who will want you to take that drink, take that smoke, go into that room, and any countless number of things you know you should not do. It will be in those moments when you will need to remember all the times I told you no, all the reasons why I told you no, and all the lessons I tried to teach you. Those will be the times when your morals are questioned, your resolve is tested,  and your true character is revealed.

So, do not ask me again why I tell you no. Do not question why I’m not the mom who shrugs and says yes to everything. I know you still will not understand. It will take years for you to comprehend why I am being so mean, not letting you spread your wings, and not letting you make your own decisions and your own rules. I know you will be angry. I know you will say, “everyone is doing it,” or “you can trust me.” I also know that it’s that way of thinking can lead to disastrous consequences.

And I know that someday, you will thank me.

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Mountains, Body, and Soul.

 

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 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.

Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.

Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, will be released in August of 2019. Order your copy today!

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).

 

 

 

Seven Things I Should Have Done

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Katie – College Sophomore in PA

Another school year is upon us. Two of my girls have already begun classes, one in her second of law school and the other in her second year of college as an elementary education major and Spanish minor. The house is quiet again, on most days, as Morgan is back on the field hockey field or out pounding the pavement, looking for a job. This was the first summer since she was eleven years old that she didn’t work, and she’s missing her spending money; but she spent the entire summer traveling, so she can’t complain!

As I sit here in the quiet house and work on my next novel, I can’t help but think ahead to next year when all three girls will be off on their own for the first time. While looking ahead, I’m also forced to look back. For over twenty-two years, Ken and I have had, as our top priority, the task of raising children. It hasn’t always been easy, and it hasn’t always been fun, but it has been worth all of the effort, all of the tears, and all of the pain. Why? Because while there has been effort, tears, and pain, there has been so much more fun, laughter, and joy. Still, there are several things I wish I had done differently. Perhaps, my mistakes can be someone else’s gain. So, here you go. These are the things I wish I had done differently as a parent:

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Reading to Rebecca (and Tucker)

7.  I wish I read to my girls later. My girls all learned to read at very early ages. Quite early on, they stopped needing me to read to them at night. For several years, this was okay because when one stopped reading to me, another was holding up a book and blinking her sleepy eyes while pleading for one more story. But then one day, I turned around I realized it had been years since I had cuddled up in bed with one of my girls and read to or with them. It ended way too soon, and I regret not finding ways to stretch it out. Rebecca may not know this, but the time she came to me in a panic that she had to read an entire novel before the start of 9th grade and hadn’t left enough time to do it, was one of the best times of my life as a mother. Ironically, the book was Rebecca, after which she was named, but she found, as she read, that she was having a hard time following it and knew she couldn’t finish in time. For the next three nights, I stretched out on her bed and read aloud as she packed her book bag, brushed her hair, or straightened her room before climbing into the bed with me to listen to the strange and mysterious tale of Mr. DeWinter and his wife, Rebecca. Alas, that, too, was over too soon. 

6.  I wish I had played with them more. With three girls in the house, there was almost always somebody to play with. Only Rebecca got the chance to have mommy or daddy all to herself for a few years, but even then, I wanted her to be independent, so I didn’t make it a habit to actually play with her as much as I should have. I helped her set up her Barbie house, and I helped her clean up when she was done, but I don’t really remember actually sitting down and playing with her once she was past the toddler stage. Sure, we’ve always had family game night, including Mexican Train Dominoes matches that sometimes last half the night, but that’s not the same as good, old one-on-one play time. How many important life lessons did I miss out on teaching because I wanted her to learn to be self-reliant? How much did I miss by insisting the girls play with each other while I worked or cleaned house? Couldn’t those things have waited? Yes, they could have. Future grandchildren, watch out. 

5.  I wish I had insisted that the girls make their beds every morning. Seriously. I can’t leave my room in the morning unless the bed is made. Why didn’t I instill this same habit in my girls? In his book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg asserts that making your bed each morning becomes a keystone habit, one that results in making other good decisions made throughout the day. He says that it gives you a sense of taking charge which leads to “a greater sense of well-being and stronger skills” such as sticking to a budget.  Author, Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project), even contends that making your bed can actually make you a happier person! Now, two of the three have finally gotten into the habit of making their beds every morning, and they say it really does make a difference in how they keep their room and how they feel about themselves.

4.  I wish I had told my girls what we expect instead of what we hope. I wish we had told them,

  • We expect you to be a leader and not follow others down the wrong path.
  • We expect you to follow our rules and the law and not drink, smoke, or do drugs.
  • We expect you to abstain from sex because you’re not ready, you’re not married, and you’re not equipped to handle the consequences (not to mention the teachings of the Church). 
  • We expect you to study hard and get good grades.

There’s such a difference between telling a child, “this is what we expect you to do and how we expect you to behave” and saying, “you shouldn’t do this, but if you do, do it safely.” That’s certainly part of the conversation but shouldn’t be the focus. It’s about creating expectations and teaching them that it’s not only okay to stand their ground but will be better for them in the long run.

3.  I wish I had told them that they don’t have to always be on the top of the heap. I should have told them to try their best, work their hardest, and reach for the stars but not at the expense of their self-worth, sanity or integrity. I wish I had told them that it’s okay to fail as long as you try harder next time. It’s okay to fall down as long as you get up. It’s okay to be number two or three or even five as long as you did honest work and truly gave it your all. It’s not about how you finish but how you got there that counts.

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Morgan on the ramp she helped build in Kentucky

2.  I wish I had shown them the real world. Yes, we traveled–a lot. Yes, they saw amazing sights and had unforgettable experiences in places all over the world. But we never served at a soup kitchen. We never visited a homeless shelter. We took many loads of clothes and goods to St. Vincent de Paul, but we didn’t give enough of our time as volunteers. When Rebecca was a Junior Girl Scout, she earned her Bronze Award by collecting back packs and school supplies and handing them out to underprivileged children through SVDP. She still talks about the little boy who cried as he hugged his back pack as if it was a bag full of gold and precious jewels. Morgan talks about the man with the broken bike of which she and a SVDP volunteer helped fix the tire. When the man left, Morgan learned that he was homeless, and the bike was his only possession. But we never did anything with that knowledge. We never even tried. Thank Heaven for the school mission team. Trips to the Kentucky mountains and upstate New York were the closest my girls ever got to seeing how those in need actually live. I wish we had made sure that the girls did more to help others. I pray they still can and do.

1.   I wish I had paid more attention to my girls when they talked. I’m always distracted, always thinking about what I should be doing, always trying to complete several tasks at once. When I was little girl, I used to love to visit my Great-Aunt Grace. She would pour me a glass of lemonade and offer me grapes or cherries or cookies, and we would sit in her formal living room and talk. That’s it. We’d just talk. Looking back, I’m surprised that I liked going there at all. The television was never on. There were no other kids to play with. There were no toys. There was just Aunt Grace, lemonade, maybe a cookie, and the chance to sit and talk. 54527_1483407733837_6670383And I cherished those little moments more than she ever knew because Aunt Grace made me feel special. She didn’t want someone to watch TV with her, help her do chores, or eat her baked goods. She didn’t need a little kid interrupting her day as she gardened or dusted. But no matter what she was doing, she always, always stopped, made us a treat, and sat down to talk, to hear about my life, to ask me questions about my school or my friends, to pay attention to me and let me know that she cared. Nothing else was more important for those ten or fifteen minutes. It was all about sitting with me and listening to me as I talked. And it was wonderful. If only I can make myself remember, as a busy adult, how that felt as a grateful child.

I’m sure there are many other things I would do differently if I had it to do over again. Thankfully, my girls turned out all right–so far! Hopefully, someday I will have grandchildren and a second chance to get it all right. For now, I just pray they know that I tried, I sometimes failed, but I always loved them whether I remembered to tell them that or not.

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Morgan, Rebecca, Katie, and me at the summit of Uncompahgre Peak in Colorado

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).

Let The Dead Bury the Dead

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Yesterday, our family received the news of the sudden and unexpected passing of a dear family friend. She and her husband were the first friends my parents made after they were married. They have remained friends for over fifty years. While the husband has been sick for a long time, nobody thought his wife would be the victim of a sudden heart attack. It’s just another reminder, for me, that we should tell our families and friends how much we love them every day. And not just tell them, but show them.

As I said after the death of my father-in-law, it’s not enough to expect others to know how much we love them. We must tell them and show them as often as we can. Last week, my daughter wrote about the loss of a friend and how hard it was for her to come to grips with the fact that she would never see his smile again. I often wonder why we only think of these things after a loved one is gone. Why don’t we take every opportunity to let others know how special they are? To let them know how we feel about them?

Much debate has taken place about Jesus’s admonition to “let the dead bury the dead.” Some say Jesus was referring to the “spiritually dead.” Others say that Jesus was telling us to not look for excuses to avoid following Him. In thinking about those I’ve lost over the years, I wonder if there is a deeper, hidden meaning. 

How often do you attend a funeral at which it seems the entire world comes to say goodbye? How many people reach out, after someone is gone, to say they hadn’t seen the person in years and regretted not getting in touch. How many times have you lost someone and cried that you had let so many other things come before spending time with that person? Perhaps Jesus was reminding us that, while taking care of the dead is a good thing, it’s too little too late. Maybe we should have been paying attention to that person, to their needs (spiritual and physical), to their joys and sadnesses, long before they were gone.

On this day, in America, we celebrate the birth of our country. Many of us will spend the day with family and friends. We will toast our freedom and salute our forefathers under a sky of glittering lights. Before we spread our blankets and pop open another beer, let us reach out to to that person or persons we haven’t expressed our feelings to. Let’s use this day to let others know that we love them, appreciate them, and are thinking about them from sea to shining sea.

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.

The 9 Most Important Things I’ve Learned at 47

5-Granada53Today is my birthday, and though my children and I kid that I turn 29 again every year, I really don’t mind people knowing that I am 47. Every day, I remind myself how lucky I am to be alive, be part of my family, have the wonderful friends that I have, and live in the greatest country in the world. Age means nothing to me except that the older I get, the wiser I am, the more experiences I’ve had, the closer to God I grow, and the more I appreciate where I’ve been and what I have. Unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society. There are many stories on the news these days about elderly people being put to death simply because they are old or ill. We throw away things that aren’t broken as well as broken things that can be fixed. Everybody wants to stay young, look young, and only have things that are the newest of their kind. It’s actually quite sad when you think about it. Who says that just because something or someone is old, it or she is no longer any good? Below, are the things that I see as the best part of growing older.

1.  I no longer feel guilty about doing or buying what I want. I’ve had a job since I was 16 years old, and Ken and I have worked hard for everything we have. There’s no reason not to enjoy it.

2.  Although I still have two girls in high school, my children and I are at the point in our lives where we are able to talk to each other and do things together as friends. From going to concerts to vacationing to sharing a glass of wine (since Rebecca turned 21 last month), we are able to relish the friendship that we have spent the past 21, 18, and 16 years cultivating.

3.  I have never really been the kind of person who cares what others think about me, but I have always known the difference between character and reputation. Reaching middle age means that I have established my reputation and assume that people know my character. If they don’t, it’s no longer my problem.

4.  I know exactly who my friends are. The days of trying to fit in, avoid mean girl cliques, and live outside of the popular crowd, are long gone. I know who the people are that I can count on, who the people are with whom I can share secrets, and those with whom I can share a smile and even a cup of coffee but not the intimate details of my life. It’s quite freeing to know that I don’t have to play the games that some people play. I’ve had the same best friends for 40, 23, and 16 years, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

5.  My life is only half over. I’m an eternal optimist, so thinking of my life as half over is foreign to me. Instead, I think of it as only half over. I still have, hopefully, another 47 years to do all of the things I still haven’t done – visit the last four states that I have yet to go to, ride in a hot air balloon, return to the Holy Lands, see my children marry and have children of their own, and walk El Camino (2019 is my target year, right Anne, George, Marian, Anne, Susan, Chandi, Ronnie, and Tammi?).

6.  My parents aren’t getting any younger either. I try to see them as often as possible and spend as much time with them as I can. I cherish our moments together and hope they know that everything I am, have, and believe is due to their love, guidance, and example.

7.  My faith is stronger now than it ever was, and I am still learning more about it every day. Time in prayer has become more treasured and coveted. Reading scripture is a daily habit. I’ve walked with God intermittently over the past 47 years. I want to spend the next 47 walking beside Him every minute of every day.

8.  Even the bad days are good. As happens in everyone’s life now and then, there are days when nothing seems to go right. These are the days when I recall the things that really matter (all of the other things on this list), and remain grateful for what I have. My mother used to tell me time and again, there’s no use crying over spilt milk. Instead of worrying about spilled, spoiling milk, I prefer to seek out and smell the roses because…

9.  Life is a gift and a blessing. We have the ability to do so much, to experience so much, to give of ourselves to others, and be blessed by others in return. We should make every day count and enjoy life to its fullest.

For Lenten inspiration, check out Amy’s collaboration with authors, Anne Kennedy, Susan Anthony, Chandi Owen, and Wendy Clark:  Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms.

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 inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner.  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)

Becoming the Learners

IMG_0505This week so far has been pretty surreal. Katie has already started counting down to “move-in” day, Rebecca is home for what will probably be her last leisurely spring break and her last time “living” in our family home, we’ve started the process of converting Rebecca’s room to my office, and today was spent touring law schools. The end of the school year is approaching faster than I imagined, and I was already aware that it was barreling down on us like a tornado in the Oklahoma summer.

It’s going to feel very strange around here next year. Katie has this wonderful, endearing ability to bring light to every situation. It’s no wonder her class just chose her, “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.”  I’m really going to miss that ray of sunshine next year. And Rebecca and I have had the best conversations in the few days she’s been home. I’d forgotten how even our disagreements, when done in person and not over texting, can be honest, engaging, and informative. We’ve talked non-stop while cleaning out her room, driving to the law schools, and roaming the halls of academia, while plotting her future, reminiscing about the past, and just enjoying each other’s company.

It’s going to feel strange walking into my office every day and not thinking about the many years she inhabited the room, her Broadway marquee signs mingled with her Washington Capitals posters and inspirational plaques. Her awards and trophies have been packed away, and her favorite pieces of art, map of the world, and globe paperweight have been carefully packed, labeled, and set aside for “Rebecca’s future law office.” As we paint later this week, I know it will feel as if we are erasing one phase of life and replacing it with another. Alas, time marches on whether we’re ready or not.

I think this is why God gave me three daughters. Rebecca is here to show us the way. She taught us how to be parents, what we did right and what we did wrong, how to plant roots and grow a tree, and how to let go. Katie taught us the ups and downs of parenting. She showed us that there are good days and bad days, and we have to be ready for both. She helped us to be more attentive and kind, to better accept and appreciate the differences in all people, and how to let go, have fun, and say goodbye with the knowledge that it isn’t the end of anything but the beginning of everything. And Morgan has taught us patience, perseverance, and persistence. She has shown us how two people with almost identical personalities can be enormously different. She will remain in the nest, for a little longer, while the other two begin to spread wings and take off in flight. We’ll be back where we were twenty-one years ago, just Ken, our daughter, and me. She’ll have us all to herself, and I look forward to watching her grow and make her mark the way Rebecca and Katie have and continue to do. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and I think she will teach us more than both of her sisters combined.

Nobody ever told me that having three daughters was going to be easy. Nobody ever tried to convince me that letting them go would go wouldn’t break my heart. And nobody ever said that saying goodbye wouldn’t bring tears. But I wouldn’t have traded our lives for anything else. In spite of the fights between sisters and the fights between daughters and parents; despite the nights spent worrying about where they were or what they were doing; despite the trials, mistakes, and screw-ups we’ve endured as parents; and despite the sadness of watching them leave, I know that my heart rejoices in the women they are now and are becoming, and my tears of heartache are far outweighed by my tears of joy.

Life hasn’t always been easy parenting three headstrong, independent girls, I mean young women. Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster of never ending ups and downs, harrowing turns, and frightful loop-de-loops. But I guess that’s what parenting is all about. We start out thinking that we are the ones who know everything, who will impart years of wisdom on these young souls, who will be the ones to teach them everything they need to know. I never imagined that it would be I who would learn the most.

For Lenten inspiration, check out Amy’s collaboration with authors, Anne Kennedy, Susan Anthony, Chandi Owen, and Wendy Clark:  Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms.

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 inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner.  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)

Lighting the Way This Christmas

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About ten years ago, I had a public disagreement with someone who was the leader of an organization that I was and still am a part of.  We were planning a trip for a large number of young girls, and we were at odds over the logistics of the trip.  After causing a bit of a scene, this person ended the meeting and then called the “higher ups” to complain about my alleged coup.  A friend, who was at the meeting, asked me, “Does she know about everything you’re going through right now?” After I shook my head to say no, she replied, “You should tell her.  She shouldn’t be treating you like that.”

You see, my grandmother had recently had a debilitating stroke and was going downhill fast; my father had just been diagnosed with cancer, again; one of our daughters was really struggling with bullies at school, and we were in the process of trying to figure out how to send all three girls to the Catholic school where we so desperately wanted them to be anyway.  To make matters worse, Ken had unexpectedly resigned from his job after life in the political limelight became too much for us all; and just when I had decided to stay home and try to get my writing career started, a tumor was discovered on my uterus and would require surgery and a biopsy.  It seemed that my entire world was falling apart before my eyes, but very few people actually knew the whole of what we were facing.  Ken wasn’t sleeping at all at night because he worried about us losing everything if he didn’t find a job.  Our daughter cried uncontrollably every morning when I tried to put her on the bus, and our savings was quickly being depleted with no hope in sight.  But it all taught me some very important lessons. 

First, have faith, always.  I never let my faith waiver.  I knew that, despite both us being out of work, God was going to provide.  I knew that if He wanted our children to change schools, He would make it happen.  I knew that whatever was to come, we could face it together.  The story of how we overcame all of this can be saved for another day, but suffice it to say that God came through in some very miraculous ways.  Yes, faith the size of a mustard seed can indeed move mountains.

Another very important thing I learned was that while I was suffering inside, so, too, might this other person have been suffering.  I knew very little about her.  I had never met her before joining this group, and after this incident drove her to quit the organization, I never saw her again.  I often wonder if things might have turned out differently had I taken the time to get to know her, to talk to her, to ask her if everything was okay.  Perhaps she wasn’t upset with me or our group at all.  Perhaps there was something bigger going on in her life, and she felt things spiraling out of control just as I had.  Maybe planning this trip was too much for her with whatever else was going on.  Sadly, I’ll never know.  In all honesty, I can’t say I’ve gotten better at this, but I do try to be a little more empathetic.

Finally, we all have opportunities to reach out to and help one another.  Not only my faith in God, but my friends and family got me through one of the hardest times in my life.  Though very few people knew the whole story, those who did became my rocks.  They prayed for me, brought my family meals after my surgery, cleaned my house, and took care of my children.  And over the years, I’ve tried to repay them and pay it forward.

We’re in the season of Advent.  It’s a time of preparation but also a time of healing, of sharing, of reaching out to others.  There is so much that we can do, in ways both large and small, to have an impact on the lives of others.  Take your children to drop off gifts at a homeless shelter or a prison.  Support your local organizations that help those in need (look for a St. Vincent de Paul Society near you and ask how you can help).  Bake cookies for the shut-in across the street, and spend time with her when you deliver them.  Call an old friend or family member who you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.  Let go of old grudges, and forgive.  Open your heart to the relatives you’d rather not spend time with.  Ask them how they are, and let them know you care.

I remember one Christmas, many, many years ago. I might have been seven or eight, but I’m really not sure.  There was a report on the news about a poor family in DC who not only had no presents but no clothes, no food, and no heat.  I think there was a new baby in the house, and the family would be lucky to make it through Christmas.  If my parents looked at each other with sadness as we watched the story, I didn’t notice.  When they discussed it, I don’t know.  How they found out where this family lived, I have no idea.  But one evening, my father came home and loaded us all into his car.  We drove into the city, going to a neighborhood we wouldn’t have entered during the day, not to mention at night.  When the mother opened the door, we all stood on her front step with wrapped presents, bags of clothes, and food.  I’ll never forget her tears or the way she hugged us all.  I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of the little children as they reached for their presents.  Maybe some of these details are a little mixed up.  Maybe I invented half of them with the imagination of a child who witnessed something akin to a miracle, but this is how I remember it.  I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas that year.  To be honest, we didn’t have extra money growing up, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some, maybe all, of those wrapped presents were meant for us.  What I do remember is that there never was and never will be another Christmas quite like that one.

So maybe you can’t solve all of the world’s problems this holiday season.  Maybe you can’t supply Christmas for a needy family.  But I bet you can find something to do to brighten someone’s day, to make their holiday a little more joyous.  Look beyond what you see in each person and what you think you know about them, and find a reason to love them anyway.  And let them know it.  When Christmas arrives, you will be more than prepared.  You will be lighting the way.

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 inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her most recent book, Whispering Vines, is available for purchase; and her next novel, Island of Miracles, will be released in January of 2017.

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)