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.

Returning to the Island

Front CoverEighteen months ago, I introduced many readers to Chincoteague Island, a place long-known and loved by many in the Mid-Atlantic area. The response to the award-winning novel was overwhelming, and I fell in love with the characters as much as my readers did. In less than a month, on June 15, the sequel to Island of Miracles will be released. In this darker story, we learn that promises are like castles made of sand…

Kayla believed Zach was the man to repair her heart and her family. Zach believed Kayla was the woman to repair his soul. But Zach’s secrets are too big, his guilt too heavy, for him to keep his promises. He needs to get out now before he causes Kayla more heartache than the young widow has already endured.

There’s nothing like a crisis to bring two people together, and suddenly, the idyllic island off the Mid-Atlantic coast has those in spades. A serial killer has found his way into paradise, bringing Zach’s former life close to home, and Kayla is facing a health scare that is every woman’s worse nightmare. Will the tragedies they face pull them apart or bring them closer to fulfilling their promises to each other?

It’s a race for time that pits the island against an unthinkable evil and Kayla against her own body. I’ve had a few people ask why this had to happen? Why turn a beautiful haven into a house of horror? The reasons are both complex and simple. Unfortunately, we live in a world where even the safest places–schools, hospitals, movie theaters, our homes–are no longer safe. We also live in a world where we are confronted, sometimes on a daily basis, by sins of the past. For Zach and Kayla, each trying to overcome the horrors of their past, life on island is ideal. Surrounded by friends and family, nothing can take away their happiness. But every one of us knows that happiness can be destroyed by demons that attack from both the inside and outside at the most unexpected times.

Of course, Island of Promise isn’t a horror story, and it isn’t a harrowing roller coaster of suspense. At its heart, it’s a story of community and family and the ties that bind them together, a story of a mother’s unfailing love for her children, a story of redemption, and a story of love conquering all. 

I hope this book serves as a reminder that the one thing we can always expect is the unexpected. Bad things happen, but good things can come of them if we choose to have faith in the promise of the future. As a visitor to the island says in chapter fifteen, “A glass is an empty vessel until you fill it with water, or coffee, or whiskey, or whatever else you want to put into it. And then it’s full, full of something life-giving. And that’s how I felt. Empty until I found something to fill me up….Find the thing that fills you up. And cherish it with all your heart.”

I welcome you all back to Chincoteague Island for the second installment in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I hope you’ll come on over and stay for a while. The ice cream is cold, the oysters are hot, and the community is holding its arms open for you.

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:  Mothers, Daughters, and Memories

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)

The Family Table

IMG_1972.jpegYears ago, my mother wrote an article for a magazine about her grandmother’s kitchen table. The sturdy, wooden table, made by my great-grandfather, was used in their home for many years. When my mother’s sister married, the table found a new home in her house where it still sits today. Every scratch, every dent, every mark on the table tells a story. My mother remembers it as the place where all news was shared–both good and bad. It was where my great-grandmother sat each morning and said her daily prayers. It was the site of many rousing card games as well as where weddings, funerals, and other family events were planned. It was the one piece of furniture that truly evoked, and still evokes, the true meaning of a home–a place where everyone gathers to share the best and worst moments in life.

Over the past several months, we have been remodeling our kitchen. Like my mother’s house, and my aunt’s house, the kitchen always seems to be the place where people gather in our home. It’s where meals are shared, plans are made, discussions are had, birthday candles are blown out, homework is done, and games are played. As the years have gone by, and my children have grown, we have gone through four different kitchen tables, each one larger in size than the one before and none of them really to my liking. I was always searching for something more–for a table that was more than a piece of furniture. I wanted all of us to be able to walk into the room, see the table, and know that we are home.

As our kitchen cabinets were removed, the floor replaced, and the walls painted, Ken and I searched and searched for the perfect table. He thought I was out of my mind, but I had a very clear picture in my head of what I wanted. I wanted the Walton’s table, the Braverman’s table, and the Reagan’s table. I wanted a table that can seat all five of us, and any family or friends who are visiting us. I wanted there to be room to spare for future spouses and future children. I was looking for a table that will bring us together even when we live miles apart.

Enter, Etsy. For hours, I poured over pictures of tables, contacted carpenters, and laid out my case to Ken that the bigger the table, the better. We went back and forth on the reasons why my dream table was just not a reasonable one, but my mind was made up. I knew I had to have a very long table that will last for generations and be a welcoming refuge at which to share a cup of tea, a meal, a conversation, and a lot of love. When Ken reluctantly gave in, he told me that he hoped we didn’t regret buying the custom-made ten-foot table. My heart soared. 

Once it was in the house, we both agreed that there can be no more perfect table than this for our home. That was confirmed on Easter and again this past Sunday as we celebrated three family birthdays. My girls laugh at me when I tell them that I plan on having family dinners every Sunday that they and their families are expected to attend, but I know that deep down, we all believe what my mother’s family knew those many years ago–there is nothing that says home, and no furniture that says love, like the family table.

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What I was writing about this time last year:  The Top Ten Reasons Easter is Irrelevant

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 REAL Boyfriend…

A few days ago, my oldest daughter shared a photo she saw on Facebook in an effort to get the word out that this is NOT what we should be teaching our sons and daughters. The photo read:

A REAL BOYFRIEND:

  • Calls you for nothing.
  • Texts you all the time.
  • Wants to see you.
  • Gets jealous.
  • Is overprotective.
  • Loves you.

 I was sickened by the message that this sends, and I have not been able to stop thinking about the harm that some of these sentiments could do to young people. So, here is my list, based on my own experience and observations, of what a REAL BOYFRIEND is:

  • A real boyfriend loves you for who you are, inside and out, and takes the time to get to know the true you.
  • A real boyfriend is willing, and even happy, to wait for marriage to have sex. It’s about more than religion, though I consider a religious basis a strong one. It’s about fidelity, commitment, self-worth, dignity, and mutual respect. 
  • A real boyfriend does amazing things like hand-carry an entire hand-painted 12-place-setting china set, complete with all of the accessories, all the way from Poland to the US because they reminded him of you; and he knew you’d love them even more than the set you picked out at the china store.
  • A real boyfriend is your best friend, your confidant, your go-to person. He is there for you to share your wildest dreams, your darkest secrets, and your silliest moments; and he’s not afraid to let you and the world know that you are special. 
  • A real boyfriend builds you up, never tears you down, keeps you grounded without stifling your dreams, and talks you through your problems, helping you solve them in a way that will enhance you and your life.
  • A real boyfriend is happy for you when you spend time with your friends. He does not constantly ask whom you are with or what you are doing. He trusts you. He encourages you to have friends who make you happy and help you to grow. 
  • A real boyfriend enjoys spending time with you and doing the activities that you like to do. He recognizes that a relationship is a give and take and that you should both make an effort to do things that make the other happy.
  • A real boyfriend is there to hold your hand when you are sick, comfort you when you are sad, and calm you when you are afraid. He does not add to your sadness or fears, but helps you deal with and overcome them.
  • A real boyfriend loves God more than he loves you and works with you to live a life that is holy.
  • A real boyfriend, who plans to be with you for life, knows that love means being at your side even when you no longer know he’s there or no longer know who he is.
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    Authentic love is what we will remember this Friday, that Jesus loved us so much, He gave His life for us.
  • A real boyfriend understands that authentic love is unconditional and self-giving. It is sacrificial. It asks constantly, “What can I do for the love of the other?” John 15:13 tells us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  To sum it up, you have to look no further than the writings of Saint Paul:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-8

May you all have a blessed Easter.

Did you hear Amy’s guest appearance on Danielle Bean’s Girlfriends Podcast? Check it out

What I was writing about this time last year:  All That Stuff & 5 Things It 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)

Dancing Through Life

Here’s a little known fact that I’ve always found cute and endearing: my husband loves to dance. I didn’t say he is a good dancer. I often equate him with Steve Martin’s The Jerk when he discovers that music has a beat.

I’m pretty sure that Ken sees himself more like Fiero in Wicked.

  

But the truth is that Ken really, really loves to dance, and he wants to be good at it. In fact, when we were first married, he told me that someday he’d like us to take ballroom dancing lessons. Well, someday is here.

For Christmas, I gave Ken a month of ballroom dancing lessons. I went into it thinking it was going to be easy for me. After all, I’ve always loved to dance. I took dance as a little girl and actually learned square dancing and the waltz in gym class. Ken and I used to do country line dancing all the time before we had children. I knew that this was going to be a piece of cake. I was so wrong.

We go to dance every Thursday night from 7-9pm. We are learning the Rumba, the Bolero, the Waltz, and the Salsa. I’ve had to throw everything I knew about dance out the window and begin at step one, literally (you know, 1,2,3and 4 or 1and2,3and4). It’s exhausting and sometimes frustrating. I can hear the beat, but Ken cannot. He can grasp the side breaks, but I struggle.

Four dances in two hours is brutal. And then there is the hour of at-home practice that Ken insists upon every night. If I thought the arthritis in my foot was bad before, aye-yi-yi! It’s killing me! But last night, as we danced around our living room, I could sense a break-through. We began working together. Sure, we had our moment of frustration with each other, but we let it go. We let it go and just danced.

We will never be Fred and Ginger. And all joking aside, we make the newbies on Dancing with the Stars look like Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. But we are learning to dance, and perhaps, we are learning even more important lessons, ones I sometimes need to tell myself over and over again.

Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. (Ephesians 4:2)

Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace. (Proverbs 15:18)

The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Ken and Amy's Wedding36And most of all, the words that were read at our very own wedding over twenty-four years ago:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

Perhaps those were lessons God intended for us to learn all along.

 

What I was writing about this time last year:  The American Way

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 three 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 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, is on sale 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)

It’s Not Enough

Author’s Note: When I first wrote this piece, it was much longer. It laid out, in great detail, all the lessons I learned in 2017. But as I thought about it, I realized that there was only one lesson that truly mattered. Here it is…

Life itself is a classroom, a continuously evolving curriculum, an education that lasts from the day you are born until you die. At my age, after more than a few decades on this earth, I am amazed at the things I learn every day. Here is the most important thing I learned in 2017 that will shape my words and actions in 2018 and beyond.

It’s never enough to assume that others know how you feel. When Ken and I first began dating, over twenty-five years ago, I thought it was more than strange that his entire family says “I love you” every single time they are on the phone. Without fail. It took me a long time to get used to hearing Ken tell his mother, father, brother, and sister that he loves them so often. I’m not sure when the change began to occur in me. Perhaps it was when my father had his last bout with cancer. Maybe it was when Rebecca began driving. Or when my dear grandmother left us. At some point, I noticed that I, too, had started saying “I love you” before hanging up the phone. Over the past two dozen years, we’ve lost grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends. We’ve watched others lose parents and even children. We’ve seen how quickly you can lose someone who meant more to you than you ever said out loud. So, you see, the most important thing I learned this past year is that it’s not enough. It’s not enough to say I love you once a year, once every five years, once in a lifetime. It’s not enough to only say I love you to your children or parents. It’s not enough to wait until someone is dying to hold his hand, kiss his cheek, and whisper in his ear that you love him. It’s simply not enough.

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What I was writing about this time last year:  Through the Eyes of A Child

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet 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 and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale 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)

Seeing Jesus

Every time I have tried to write this post, I have been brought to a standstill. I intended to write on the meaning of Christmas, but I can’t seem to move past the events taking place in my family. Several days ago, radio host, Gus Lloyd, posed the question, if there was a survey in which people had to look at a picture of Santa and a picture of Jesus and choose which one has to do with Christmas, which picture would the majority of people pick? He contended that most would choose Santa, and he’s probably correct. I had a whole blog written in my head on that very topic, but somehow, I find myself unable to actually write it.

While it might be true that nowadays, many people associate Santa with Christmas, the Easter Bunny with Easter, and Jesus with ancient stories that have no relevance today, I have been blessed to witness Jesus over and over this Christmas season.

You may know that my father-in-law is very sick and will not be with us much longer. Those words are very difficult to write. For over twenty-four years, he has been a second father to me. Recently someone commented to me that it was asking a lot of me to take care of man who isn’t even my own dad. But, from day one, Dad has always treated me like his daughter. I can’t let him down. But I do.

I have learned that I am not a caregiver. I think I did all right as a mother. My girls all seemed to have turned out okay. But when I take my turns with Dad, I find myself at a loss for what to say, what to do, how to comfort him. I try, but words fail me. I want to be kind and loving when he’s hurting. I want to be stern and commanding when he’s doing something he’s been told not to do. I want to let him know that I am there for him and talk to him about my girls, the weather, or the news. Instead, I often find myself not sure how to talk to a man who used to love talking to everyone, telling stories, and hearing tales but can no longer speak or interact. I want to help feed him, attend his personal needs, and care for his failing body, but I stumble on my own insecurities.

And then I watch my sister-in-law, Chrissy, who so loving and uncomplainingly writes to Dad over and over on his white board and coaxes him to write back. I observe my husband, Ken, as he gently guides his father to the bathroom, helps him comb his hair, and changes his clothes, all with an unwavering devotion and patience. I wipe away a tear as my Rebecca gives up a weekend of studying for her last first-semester law school exam to visit her grandfather and to lay a wreath on his father’s grave. I marvel at my sixteen-year-old, Morgan, really just a child, who has become one of Dad’s most frequent and attentive caregivers. She skipped her school’s Christmas party this morning to wake up at the crack of dawn and feed her grandfather, help the hospice nurse change and shave him, and spend her first day of the break tending to his every need so that her grandmother could attend an important event and doctor’s appointments. I look at these people, and countless others – my daughter Katie who runs countless errands so she can help us out, the hospice nurses who gently wash Dad, Morgan’s teachers who allow her to leave school early to help feed her grandfather when I fear I will do something wrong.; I look at them, and I see Jesus.

I don’t know when society began turning away from God or when Christmas became more about Santa than about Jesus, but I do know that Jesus exists, here and now. He told us, “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Sometimes the most difficult and painful times in life provide us with the opportunity to show the greatest amount of love. So, during this Christmas season, I’d like to remind everyone of the real reason for the season, but I’d also like to point out that Jesus doesn’t come to us at Christmas time only. He is here every day, in the loving hands of those who tend to the sick and dying, in the eyes of a child who finds peace in bringing happiness and comfort to others, in the arms of a loved one, providing care and comfort for the weary. He is there in a million things we do each day. We just need to open our eyes and see Him, and then point Him out to others so that they, too, can know He is here.

Merry Christmas to you all. May you encounter Jesus at the celebration of His birth and every day throughout the year.

1503911_10200877328958367_1431887920_nMy dear precious Jesus, I did not mean to take your place,
I only bring toys and things and you bring love and grace.
People give me lists of wishes and hope that they came true;
But you hear prayers of the heart and promise your will to do.
Children try to be good and not to cry when I am coming to town;
But you love them unconditionally and that love will abound.
I leave only a bag of toys and temporary joy for a season;
But you leave a heart of love, full of purpose and reasons.
I have a lot of believers and what one might call fame;
But I never healed the blind or tried to help the lame.
I have rosy cheeks and a voice full of laughter;
But no nail—scarred hands or a promise of the hereafter.
You may find several of me in town or at a mall;
But there is only one omnipotent you, to answer a sinner’s call.
And so, my dear precious Jesus, I kneel here to pray;
To worship and adore you on this, your holy birthday. – Author Unknown

What I was writing about this time last year:  Tis The Season

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet 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 and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale 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)