Seeing Through the Forest to the Trees

Recently, a friend posted the following graphic on Facebook:

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This really hit me hard. As the mother of three girls, I see and hear all too often so many judgements and criticisms of others. While we’ve tried very hard to raise children who are kind, loving, and tolerant, it’s so very easy for all of us to fall into the trappings of a society that thrives on comparisons, disparages, and denunciations. Sometimes we even fall prey to these weaknesses with each other.

IMG_8422Of my three daughters, two of them are outspoken, free-thinking, and often exasperating in their insistence that they know best for themselves and others. But one daughter is quiet, introspective, and much more tolerant of everyone. She’s more emotional, more insecure, and more likely to see her own faults and weaknesses. She’s most certainly the tree that stands alone in the woods, the one that is struggling to reach the light, the one that needs its own space but is woefully dependent upon the others. That’s a thing, you know. Some scientists and naturalists believe that “trees of the same species are communal, and will often form alliances with trees of other species. Forest trees have evolved to live in cooperative, interdependent relationships, maintained by communication and a collective intelligence similar to an insect colony.

I’ve seen this play out over and over again within our own family. Our daughter wants to be independent and self-assured, but one biting word or harsh look from one of her sisters or a peer, and she’s once again the bent tree, desperately in need of light. And it isn’t just her sisters and peers that have this affect on her. I’m afraid that I’m a major contributor to her feelings of inadequacy. A high-achiever, perfectionist, and admittedly intolerant when it comes to others’ faults, I often have a hard time being the “good” parent. I want to, but my own fears for her future lead me to say and do things that don’t help at all. Thank Heaven for Ken, who is able to relate to her on a level that I am never able to. Sometimes, I just have to give him a look, and he knows that he needs to step in. He’s so patient, loving, and kind in those times when I’m pulling out my hair in frustration. Tree expert, Peter Wohlleben, tells us that “young saplings in a deeply shaded part of the forest…survive because big trees, including their parents, pump sugar into their roots through the network.” Thankfully, Ken is there when our daughter needs to be pumped up by his strength. 

But here’s the strange thing – I, too, was that tree in the woods that wanted so desperately to be more than I thought I was – to have the greener leaves, richer soil, more abundant birds nesting in my branches, and a greater amount of light shining on me. Though I think I hid it well, I was always insecure, never trusting that my friends were really my friends, always striving to be more than I felt I was, never sure that I was… enough. 

Trees.jpgToday, I know that I am what I am. I am enough. I am exactly who and what God intended me to be. I suppose I am on my way to being like the oldest, tallest, and sturdiest trees in the forest. As Professor Suzanne Simard says, “Mother trees are the biggest, oldest trees in the forest…nurturing, supportive, maternal. With their deep roots, they draw up water and make it available to shallow-rooted seedlings. They help neighboring trees by sending them nutrients, and when the neighbors are struggling, mother trees detect their distress signals and increase the flow of nutrients accordingly.” Even having been a mother for over twenty-two years, I am still working on dispensing that flow of nutrients when and how they are needed, but I certainly see that that we are all–families, friends, communities–dependent upon each other. We were all created by God, and all are works of wonder.

Some of us are tall and sturdy. Some are thin and weak. Some need more nutrients than others. Some are green and vibrant all the time while others have the need to go dormant for periods of time. Some have long branches that reach out to everyone, some have deep roots that give stability, and some have leaves that quake like the Colorado aspen, shining and waving to others, welcoming them into the fold.

 

We should all be reaching out to others, providing stability, welcoming others in. We should all see each other as trees, accepting those who seem less than worthy, providing strength to those who are like struggling saplings, and nourishing others with whatever they need–be it food, shelter, friendship, or just a kind word or deed.

I urge you to begin looking at each other differently. Even if these naturalists are literally barking up the wrong tree, and all of their assumptions about the interdependency of trees is rubbish, we can still learn a lot from the ecosystem that has created and sustained the world’s woodlands and forests. Sumard says, trees “live longest and reproduce most often in a healthy stable forest. That’s why they’ve evolved to help their neighbors.” Rather than judge, condemn, or criticize, we need to acknowledge and accept the gifts that each person has to offer. All we need to do is begin seeing each other as trees. 

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very delighted to be partnering with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details, click here.

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 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 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), Island of Promise (2018).

 

Let The Dead Bury the Dead

Blog today

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.

A Glimpse of Paradise

 

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A day on the water with my brothers and grandparents

When I was a little girl, there was no place more enchanting, more relaxing, more rejuvenating for my mind, body, and soul than grandma’s house. Whether for a weekend, a week, or the whole summer, be it alone or with my brothers, it was my escape from the real world. After I got married, I continued visiting my grandmother, whose 97th birthday would have been yesterday, carving out a week every summer to make the three-hour drive from our home on the Eastern Shore down to St. Mary’s County. I even made the trip, without fail, when I had three babies in tow. How my grandmother loved those visits, and how I loved being with her. Just like when I was child, there were no demands, no places we had to go, no stresses or worries. We lounged in the living room and read books, We sat on the backyard swing and talked. We made the rounds, visiting the cousins and neighbors, but were in no hurry to be anywhere. No matter my age or station in life, grandma’s house was, for me, a glimpse of Paradise.

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Morgan’s first visit to Granny’s

I tried, once I had the girls, to take a week at my own parents’ house as well, but somehow, the summers always got away from us, and I started going less and less. Just as I did when I was little, I began sending my girls to their grandmother’s house at a young age. I think Rebecca was three the first time I left her at my mother’s by herself. From the calls throughout the week, and the stories Rebecca brought home, you would have thought she spent the week at Disney World. Last summer, at the age of twenty-one, Rebecca took her boyfriend, Anthony, with her to spend several days at my parents’ house. I can’t begin to express how that made me feel. My parents felt like the most special people in the world, but they still reminded me that I didn’t get home enough. Every time I went home for a quick, overnight trip, my mother would say, “You need to come more often and stay longer.” I knew she was right, but I never really made the time to do it. 

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Rebecca’s visit to Grandma and Granddad’s
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Day one of my visit – Father’s Day

After we lost Ken’s dad this past winter, I realized how important those visits are, not just for my girls but for my parents and for me. That’s why, for the past three mornings, I have awoken in my old bedroom to the sounds of my eighty-one-year-old dad getting ready for his two-mile walk. Joining him, at a much earlier time that I would be opening my eyes at home, dad and I headed through the neighborhood. The first half the walk was spent in silence as we each prayed the Rosary. After that, dad pointed to the various houses along the way, telling me who still lived where, who was retired, who had since passed, and what changes were taking place in the neighborhood. We talked about our family and about people we knew. At times, we didn’t talk at all. We just enjoyed the quiet of each other’s company.

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Mom and I at Ladew Gardens

Yesterday, Mom and I went on a home and garden tour. We have watched three movies, gone shopping, and talked a lot. We’ve been in no hurry, had no stress or cares, and just enjoyed being together, chatting about books and the kids and life. It was my husband who reminded me that this visit is much like the ones I used to make to my grandmother’s house. I never let a summer go by that I didn’t make the trip, and far too many years have passed since I marked that week on the calendar. I’m so happy Ken reminded me how important that was. I’m going to make sure a trip to my parents’ house is always the first thing I mark on the calendar from now on when summer planning gets underway. We can’t let the busyness and the hectic pace of life allow us to ignore those beautiful gifts and glimpses of Paradise.

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

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

What I was writing about this time last year:  Seven Reasons to Put Down Your Electronic Devices This Summer

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).

Defining Success

It’s an amazing thing to watch your children grow. I guess I’ve always known that being a parent is a special gift that holds a lifetime of rewards, but you really don’t get it until your children are on their own. Sure, you experience the joy of a baby, the thrills of all the “firsts” that a child goes through, the gold stars on homework and tests, the first goal on the playing field, the magical moments of their first love. But you never truly understand what a gift you’ve been given until a couple decades have passed, or come close to passing. That’s when you stop seeing them as children and begin seeing them as real, grown-up, decision-making, mistake-prone people. It’s also when you begin to wonder, even worry, about how they will define and discover success.

Because being successful, according to world standards, is hard! There’s so much conflicting advice out there. Find your passion. Make lots of money. Wait to get married. Go, get married. Wait to have children. Have children while you’re young. Make money, not babies. Follow your heart. Follow your head. How is any young person supposed to know what to do? Did you know that 80% of college students in the US change their majors at least once, and most students change their majors three times in the course of their college careers? Why? They have no idea what they should do, or WANT to do, to be successful.

Our oldest, Rebecca, has known for years that she wants to be an attorney. Her father, an attorney, majored in Biology and Chemistry and told her from the start that she should choose a major she loved and work hard to be the best in that field of study. He knew, as Elle Woods learned, that you don’t have to slog through political science to get into law school (that’s coming from yours truly, a poli sci major). Rebecca took this to heart…eventually. She tried out several majors, beginning with criminal justice, and moving on to an array of others before finding that she had a passion for philosophy. It seemed that every other month, she called me with the familiar opening, “Mom, I’m changing my major.” I often wondered if she would ever finish college. But she did, and in only four years.

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The day Rebecca decided on Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law

With a double major in philosophy and sociology, as well as a minor in legal studies, she made it into one the best law programs in the country and finished her first year, ranked within the top of 20 of the class. So much for doing things the traditional way, or even the easy way. Rebecca found what she loved and made it work for her. I’d call that a good start on the road to success.

Throughout Katie’s life, everyone she encountered told her that she would make a wonderful teacher. Katie wanted no parts of that. She whole-heartedly believed those who told her that being a teacher just isn’t worth it. She was often told that children were too hard to deal with, that the money isn’t worth the hassle, and that she was too smart to teach. She applied for college as a communication major, hoping to make her love of photography and her writing skills the building blocks of a successful career in journalism. Just two weeks before she left for college, she came to me in a panic. “Mom, I don’t want to be a journalist. I want to be a teacher!” Hallelujah! I was so happy, I almost cried. Okay, maybe I did cry a little. After a few phone calls and several emails, Katie’s class schedule was adjusted, and she was ready to begin her study of education.

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Katie and some of her students

And how about now, ten months later? Katie is student-teaching at a bilingual school in Peru and loving every second of it. Every day, I look forward to her texts, containing pictures of “her kids”  and details about what she’s teaching them. And here’s what has struck her the most–in Peru, like many countries outside of the US, she found that “teachers are treated like rock stars!”

 

Do you know that teachers’ salaries in the US ranked TWNETY-SEVENTH in the modern world, ahead of Italy, Hungary, Chile, and the Slovak and Czech Republics? And that US teachers are tied with doctors and nurses for the most stressful careers and get little support for the hard, demanding jobs they do? Where are our priorities, America? 

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Checking out the nursing lab at Morgan’s chosen college.

And speaking of nurses… Morgan will be a senior in high school in the fall. More focused than almost any young person I know, she has already chosen her college and her field of study. After the suffering and death of her grandfather, earlier this year, Morgan knew that she was being called to be a nurse. But what was she recently told by a family member? “Be a doctor. You’re too smart to be a nurse.”

What is it with our culture that makes us diminish the importance of certain necessary careers? Did you know that nurses almost never have trouble finding a job? That being a nurse “is the ultimate opportunity” for travel? That nurses can specialize in any area of interest, bringing their passions to their job in ways most people will never be able to? That they are “the most trusted profession”? And that they have tremendous earning power? These are just a few of the many reasons to choose nursing over any other profession. Yet I know that many people will look down on Morgan, like they will Katie, because her chosen profession just isn’t good enough.

 

On the heels of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, many are wondering who, if anyone, is immune to the disease of helplessness and despair. While attorneys sit right in the middle of those more or less likely to take their own lives, health care professionals have an 80% lower suicide rate than the top victims of suicide. The lowest rate was in teachers, educators, and librarians. Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at what really makes people happy, where they can find comfort and hope, and how they can discover their self-worth and be successful.

Perhaps we will never all agree about what true success is. Sure, you can listen to all kinds of Ted Talks, telling you what success is and how to achieve it. But I think that Inc. Magazine was pretty close to the mark when it printed, “If you believe success is simply making (or having) a lot of money, you may be setting yourself up for failure.” The author claims that success means one of two things to most people–either you’re happy or you’re rich. He argues that to be truly successful, you should be both. He says that the key is to define success as being happy, finding your passion, and becoming rich in happiness, which can lead to monetary wealth as well. 

My grandfather had a plaque on his desk that now sits on my husband’s dresser. The quote is most often attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a beautiful verse that I hope my girls, and all of you, will remember and take to heart.

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Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details:  https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Three Simple but GIGANTIC Reasons to Try Something New

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 Tremendous Thing”

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 11.00.21 AMI saw a quote recently that had me thinking back over the friendships I’ve had in my life as well as my children’s friendships. All three of my girls made friends easily. They’re kind, easy-going, and fun to be around. Making friends was never a problem. However, keeping friends was. What they all found out at early ages was that not all friends are real friends, and not friends want you to be the best version of yourself. I think it took me until after high school to learn this, but times were different back them. 

When I was young, we didn’t have social media or cell phones or television series like Thirteen Reasons Why to remind us that there are always those who do not have our best interests at heart (author’s note – that is not a recommendation of Thirteen Reasons Why – in fact, it’s just the opposite as Caralyn explains here). What my girls often realized was that there are many people in this world who would rather tear people down than build them up. They realized that not everybody who claims to be your friend is going to be loyal to you. They realized that not every person who smiles and says hello is genuine.

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Bailey and Rebecca – true friends

It’s so important that everyone has at least one person in whom she can confide, at least one person who will not judge, at least one person who will challenge him to become his very best self. Every Anne Shirley needs a Diane Barry. Every Harry Potter and Ron Weasley need a Hermione Granger. Every Peter needs a Paul.

In a world where it’s hard to be yourself, find yourself, and always challenge yourself to be better, it’s even harder to find someone else who will stand by your side, loving you for who you are, encouraging you along the way. My wish for all of you is that you, and especially your children, will find your Dr. Watson to keep you grounded and your Charlotte to always remind you of your worth and your Hobbes to always be your loyal friend. Love may be what makes the world go round, but a true friend is always the one who reminds you, that “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin

Charlotte

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Three Simple but GIGANTIC Reasons to Try Something New

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).

 

Withdraw From Your Cares

IMG_0884-001I recently heard of a survey, showing that 52% of Americans reported unused vacation days in 2017. This is down 2% from the previous year, but the trend remains–Americas, unlike their counterparts around the world, are not leaving work behind to spend downtime with their friends and family. And while more people did take time off, half a million more vacation days were lost in 2017 than in 2016. 705 million vacation days were left unused. Of the days not used, Americans forfeited 212 million days, a donation of $561 per person on average in work time to their companies.

I read those numbers and gasped, shaking my head that so many people would rather work, or feel the need to work, rather than take time for themselves. While cost was cited as a barrier to taking time off, I can’t help but ask, what is the cost of a day at home, or at a local park, or at a free museum? Compare the cost of a vacation to that of a hospital stay after a heart attack or stroke brought on by long, stressful days at the office? Almost the same number of people reported their children as barriers to time off. Really? People won’t take vacations because their children get in the way? What kind of world are we living in?

For the first half of our marriage, Ken was an elected official and then the head of a state agency. For all of those years, he was expected to work, or least be available, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He and I both knew that, for the sake of his mental health and the health of our family, he needed to take breaks. Vacations, no matter how big or small, near or far, were always vital to our family and his sanity. For more than ten years now, Ken has worked for a global company, which means that often, while I’m in bed asleep, he is on the phone with colleagues in Korea or Australia. He travels often, almost weekly, and his sleep schedule is never normal. I fear that, without a vacation, he will have a mental or physical breakdown. And his job is not at all abnormal in this world of the internet, cell phones, and ease of travel.

When I was a child, our family didn’t have money to spare, but my brothers and I felt like we were the richest kids in the world. My parents took us to Andrews Air Force Base to see the Blue Angels. We visited every Smithsonian Museum. We hiked up and down the hills at the National Zoo, laughing at the monkeys and marveling at the elephants. All of those things were free. Meals? Hot dogs at the concession trucks. To my parents, these were low-cost days away from work, spent with family. To my brothers and me, they were priceless days that made lasting memories.

I encourage everyone to take a break this summer, or multiple breaks. Go outside. Connect with nature. Discover a passion. Enjoy time with your family. Play ball with your kids. Last summer, the company that Ken worked for was being sold, and we weren’t sure of Ken’s employment future. Rather than a long, expensive vacation, we borrowed a dear friend’s cabin in the Poconos. We hiked, zip lined, and even parasailed, but most of the trip was spent playing games, doing puzzles, and taking it easy. Morgan and Jacob spent hours fishing, and Ken and Katie enjoyed frequent naps. It was wonderful.

So, work hard this summer. Make each day count. But don’t forget this beautiful advice:

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The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Oh, The Places You’ll Go (to borrow from Dr. Seuss)

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)

I Was a Free-Range Kid

I’ll never forget it. I was six years old, a new first-grader, when I found out that a girl in my class lived in my own neighborhood. For kids or parents of private school lineage, you know that’s a big deal. Often, my classmates, at the Catholic school I attended, lived as far as thirty minutes away from me (my daughters have friends who live over an hour from us as our school is the only Catholic high school in nine counties). To have a friend just three blocks away was a dream come true. I can still picture the houses, cars, dogs, and yards that flew by as I raced my little, purple bike down the sidewalk. Down one street, past an intersection, turn right, almost to the end of the block, and there it was. And there I was, almost every day thereafter. Without my parents. Without a cell phone. Without a tacking device. Take that in for a moment. I was a six-year-old, on the street alone, and it was glorious.

I had to be home by 5:00 for our family dinner, but otherwise, the world was my oyster. I could walk or ride to Laura’s house. I could go all the way to the park on the other side of the neighborhood. I could, when they were older, go with my younger brothers up into the woods that were behind our house and spend hours riding our bikes up and down the tall, gravel hill that seemed to appear out of nowhere. In the summer, we stayed out all day long, from sunup until dinner at 5:00, and then we were out again. Blackberry picking, treehouse building, street hockey, downhill bike racing–the possibilities were endless! Twilight evenings and dark nights were filled with firefly catching and flashlight tag. Oh, what a wonderful time it was. 

This morning, CBS news played a story that I loved. Utah has now passed a free-range parenting law that allows kids to walk to school, go to the park, and play in their neighborhood, unsupervised, without parents being prosecuted. The law is the first in the nation, with Colorado and New Jersey hoping to follow. These laws were prompted by a case in Maryland when a mother was arrested for allowing her two children, ages six and ten, to walk to school together. She fought the charges and was eventually exonerated. And well she should have been! 

Look, I understand the fears. I have found myself just as guilty as the next overprotective parent when it comes to my kids’ safety. When my girls were in elementary school, I allowed them free-range throughout our small town, as long as they took walkie talkies with them to let me know when they reached their destination, or, if they were out riding their bikes, to just check in every now and then. Yes, I feared that something could happen to them, but we wanted our children to have the freedom to come and go, to explore the outdoors, and to stay out late into the night with their friends, enjoying the freedom of a summer night. They spent hours playing man hunt (flashlight tag without the flashlights – a kind of hide and seek in the dark) or out crabbing in a skiff or riding bikes to a friend’s house the next town over. Morgan, left to her own devices one afternoon, taught herself how to ride a two-wheeler! 

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A free-range girl on the go!

I heard a story, when my girls were little, about a woman whose next door neighbor called the police because the woman’s child was playing in their yard unsupervised. The mother said that she was washing dishes at a sink with a large window and could see her child the entire time. I say, so what? What if she left the sink to go switch her laundry? What if she went down the hall to make her bed? Yes, we live in a world of school shootings and kidnappings, but kids are kids. They aren’t meant to be caged inside a house like animals in a zoo. And they aren’t meant to be watched 24/7 like a science experiment (at least until they’re teenagers). Things have gotten so ridiculous that there’s even a website now that helps parents navigate their state laws so they know at what age they are allowed to stop hovering over their children!

I’m in love with the Utah law. I hope it leads to many more like it. Even better, I hope it leads to fewer laws regulating at what age a kid is allowed to be a kid. Being free-range seems to be all the rage right now when it comes to chickens. Can’t we extend some of that freedom to our kids?

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Crabbing “without a net”

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Five Things Mother Taught Me

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)