A Marriage of Worth

Baby RebeccaDear Daughter,
Congratulations on your engagement! It’s hard to believe that the day has come when I am writing these words. So often, I still think of you as my little girl, my first-born. Has it really been over twenty-three years since you came into our lives? It seems like yesterday that I first looked into those wide eyes, so full of curiosity and hunger for knowledge, and thought, “She’s mine.” Nothing has changed since that moment. You are still full of curiosity and have an insatiable desire for knowledge, and you are still mine. No matter how old you get, no matter where you live, no matter your choices in life, no matter whose heart or lead you follow, first and foremost, you will always be mine. That doesn’t mean I won’t allow you to live your life, make your own decisions, and become your own brand of wife and mother.

What it means is…

I will always have your back. I will always be there to catch you when you fall. I will always pick up the phone, race to your side, cheer your success, hold you when you fail, and pray for you every day. I will continue to marvel at the things you do and sometimes cringe at the things you say. I will never stop trying to teach you, but I will always listen to your thoughts and opinions. In return, I hope you will continue to listen to me. In case you don’t, or I’m not here in your times of need, never forget…

You have always been fiercely independent, and that shouldn’t end, but it will need to change. Jesus reminds us that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). In becoming one, you will no longer live for yourself but for each other. While this sounds romantic, it’s not. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. You have to think of what is best for the two of you, at all times, rather than what is best for yourself. You will disagree. You will fight. You will be angry with each other. But just as a cut to your own skin wounds you, a cut in the flesh you share wounds you both. You need to remember that to each other, you are “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). What hurts one will ultimately hurt the other.

Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal, in the iconic movie, Love Story, popularized the saying, ‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ This line has been misinterpreted often, and that’s so detrimental to a relationship. You see, you will have to say you’re sorry, perhaps over and over again, because you will make mistakes, and you will need to apologize, but what love actually means is that the person who has been hurt accepts that you’re sorry, forgives you, and moves on. Saying sorry is important, but forgiving is tantamount to loving. You must love each other so much that you are willing to forgive time and time again without regret and without repercussions. You know before you say the words that love has already brought about forgiveness. That’s what it means to not have to say you’re sorry.

For several years now, you have been the arbiter of your destiny. You have made all of your own decisions and chosen the path that is best for you. From now on, you will make decisions together for the best of your family. Some of those decisions will come easily to you both, but others will cause turmoil and dissension. Those are the most important decisions for those will create the moments in which you place your unfaltering trust in one another. There will be times when you will need to go against your better judgement, and he against his, but these will be times that will both test and strengthen your marriage. Accept them, and accept the chance to bend, for these moments can, at times, far outweigh the easier times when you agree on everything. These moments will be when you’re most angry, most lost, and most afraid, yet they may, in the end, be the most rewarding as they foster trust and growth. 

IMG_2758.JPGNever stop talking to each other. About everything. Tell each other your hopes and dreams, your fears and sorrows. Share the highs and lows of each day. Ask each other how you feel, what you desire, and how your day was. Talk of the lowliest and the mightiest things. But more importantly, listen to each other. Listen to what each says and does not say. Be attentive to what is asked for and what is not asked for but is desperately needed. Strive to know each other inside and out. Be in tune with the songs of each other’s hearts and the harmonies of your bodies. 

Don’t let your wedding Mass be the only time you invite God into your relationship. He enters into it from the start and desires to stay with you always. Remember that “Those who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love” (Wisdom 3:9). Just as I will never abandon you, neither will God. Allow Him to be the rock upon which you build your marriage. When you build, make God the cornerstone. When you seek, allow Him to show you the way. When you wonder, be open to His wisdom. When you hurt, plead for His mercy. When you transgress, ask for His forgiveness. And do this together. Pray together, fast together, go to Mass together, seek Him together. It truly is the only way your marriage will survive and prosper.

Finally, be a woman of worth, for “far beyond jewels is her value” (Proverbs 31:10). I have strived, throughout your life, to teach you how to do this through the grace of God. And so, I leave you with His words and not mine. May He bless your love and your marriage, lead you to prosperity and joy, and grant you a life filled with happily-ever-afters.

I love you,

Who can find a woman of worth?
Far beyond jewels is her value.

Her husband trusts her judgment;
he does not lack income.

She brings him profit, not loss,
all the days of her life…

She girds herself with strength;
she exerts her arms with vigor…

She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

She is not concerned for her household when it snows—
all her charges are doubly clothed…

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and laughs at the days to come.

She opens her mouth in wisdom;
kindly instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband, too, praises her:..

Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31

(And there’s this just in case Anthony needs a reminder of my words of wisdom to him.)

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Returning to the Island.

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 a finalist for the RWA Golden Quill Contest and the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.

Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is now available! 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).

Embracing the Romance

imageI’ve been running from it, kicking it away, fighting to hide it, and just plain old denying it; and now I’m coming out into the open to admit it.  I write romance novels.  To be honest, I hate genres.  I hate being labeled as any kind of author because I write what I write, whatever strikes my fancy, whatever my characters want the manuscript to become.  I have never intended to write a romance.  I once asked romance novelist Robyn Carr where she thinks I belong.  She didn’t hesitate, “You’re a romance writer.”  I could barely fake the smile that I returned to her as she beamed proudly at her proclamation.  “No, I’m not,” I wanted to scream to the room full of writers and fans.  I write children’s books, mysteries, suspense novels, and a blog.  I DO NOT write romance.  At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself.  Alas, here’s the truth: I DO write romance.  And here’s why…

  1. I like romance.  I like the happily ever after.  I like that when someone finishes my book, they are going to be crying happy tears because, as my editor said about my newest novel, Whispering Vines, “the book ended as it should.”  I like to put down a book feeling as though everything is right with the world, even if it’s just that little, contrived world of someone’s imagination.
  2. I love the romance community.  I belong to several writers’ associations.  None of them is as welcoming, supportive, charitable, and helpful as the romance groups I belong to.  I ask for reviewers, and they jump at the chance to read my books.  I ask for advice, and fifty people chime in to help.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a great community like that?  And don’t get me started on how devoted the fans are.  They’re the best!
  3. The sky is the limit.  While I really do not like labels, I have come to realize that, as a romance writer, one can really bypass labels or accept all labels as possibilities.  You see, as a non-romance fiction writer, I have several genres of choice: mystery/suspense, contemporary, historical, real-life crime, and so on.  But as a romance writer, I can have my cake and eat it, too!  I can write a mystery, then a sweet love story, then a historical romance, then a children’s fairy tale.  And there’s still more.  Again, the sky is the limit.
  4. Romance sells.  According to the Atlantic Monthly, romance sales “far outperform other genres of literature, including religious/inspirational books, mystery novels, science fiction and classic literary fiction.”  I guarantee that every person reading this knows a romance novel connoisseur (or is one herself).  You don’t?  Guess again.  They may be reading romance in bed after dark when nobody else sees it, but they’re reading it.
  5. It’s fun and satisfying.  Sure, I enjoy an accurate historical account, and they often help me sleep at night (or rather, fall asleep).  And a good thriller can be a real page turner.  But when it comes down to it, the books that keep me reading are the ones that give me something to root for.  Will Ella overcome her horrible curse and find true happiness with Prince Charmont?  Will Mr Darcy stop being an arrogant jerk long enough to see that he desperately needs Elizabeth in his life?  Will Scarlett ever see past her own selfishness and realize that all Rhett really wants in life is her?  These are questions that we must know the answers to!  And when that happily ever after comes (or the promise that “tomorrow is another day”), we are satisfied.  It leaves us with that glowing feeling that somehow, everything can turn out fine no matter what obstacles one must face even if we have to imagine that tomorrow, it all works out for the best.
  6. It doesn’t have to be about sex.  There is a big push today for books with explicit sex, but not all romance is written for people without imaginations.  While an honest, loving, uplifting scene of intimacy is just fine when appropriate, a good novel doesn’t have to include play by play sex scenes.  If the story can hold its own, it doesn’t need gratuitousness to keep readers interested.
  7. There’s already enough hate in the world.  Don’t we get tired of seeing bad things happen every time we turn on the news?  Must all television shows these days be built around the presence of evil?  Sure, bad things happen.  Even in romance novels.  There has to be some kind of roadblock to happiness, tragic flaws that the hero or heroine must rise above, perhaps even a bad guy wreaking havoc on the characters’ lives.  But in the end, romances all have one thing in common – the happily ever after.  And isn’t that what we all want out of life?  To live happily ever after?
  8. There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  There are storms in life.  We’ve all faced them.  And it’s nice to have a reminder that if we stick around, put in some effort, and dare to take chances, not only can we weather the storm, we can see the rainbow and rejoice as the sun clears.
  9. A good man is hard to find.  Flannery O’Conner was right.  But in romance novels, even the bad boys are tamed by the love of a good woman.  Isn’t that why every girl has a fling with a rebel or someone from the wrong side of the tracks?  Don’t we all want to fall in love with Pony Boy?  Okay, that’s not a romance, but you get the point.  Does Sandra Brown have any male leads who aren’t brooding rebels obsessing over something in their past?  And don’t they always turn out to be the perfect man in the end?
  10. Because, in the end, love is all that matters.  Even St. Paul the Evangelist knew that.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”              Corinthians, 13:6-7

Who wouldn’t want to contribute all of that to the world?  So I write romance.  And I say, ain’t love grand?

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 latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.

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)

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