The Love of a Husband

When I had my first child, my mother and grandmother stayed at the house to help me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. My husband couldn’t get off from work, and I would have been on my own. Here we are, twenty-six years later, and I’ve taken up the mantle and am at my daughter’s house helping take care of her newborn.

When Rebecca told me that her husband had two weeks of paternity leave and would be there to help as well, I honestly didn’t think too much of it. Sure, he’d be there, but what good would he be? If Rebecca needed guidance and help from someone who had “been there,” she would have me. Anthony certainly wouldn’t have anything to add to the equation. I pictured him coming home from the hospital, tired and hungry, eating whatever I made before going to bed and returning to the hospital the next day to bring Rebecca and the baby home. From there, I assumed he’d make an appearance during the day, but his primary role would come into play at night with diaper changing and then handing off Evelyn for feedings.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

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Ready to be a Grandmother. Or am I?

Any day now, possibly by the time this goes to print, I will be a grandmother. For the past nine months, I have marveled at how I could be a grandmother already. It seems too soon. I’m excited, but I don’t feel ready. I don’t have enough life experience yet. I’m still busy screwing up my children’s lives! I still make parenting mistakes all the time. How can I help my daughter navigate her own life as a new mother?

I was lying in bed last night, unable to put my mind to rest, when I thought, I don’t know how to do this yet. My mother and grandmother were so good at it, so perfect, and I’m so much younger than they were when they took on this role.

Then reality hit as I did the math…

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Perfect Poultry Pot Pie

It’s that time of year when I start thinking about good, old-fashioned comfort food. The air is beginning to feel a bit chillier, the days are getting noticeably shorter, and my youngest has already been away at school for an entire month. When I’m planning my weekly menu this time of year, my shopping lists fills with ingredients for hearty soups, delicious pastas, and foods that fill the house with long hours of scintillating aromas. And chicken pot pie is always the family favorite.

Last week, our middle daughter, Katie Ann, said, “Mom, I think it’s time for chicken pot pie.”

Now, this is not an unusual request from Katie who could eat homemade pot pie 365 days of the year, but I knew what she meant. It’s not a meal I make in the summer when my handmade, flaky crusts are reserved for blueberry, peach, or strawberry rhubarb pies. It’s one of those meals that is just right for a cold, blustery, snowy, or rainy day. A day like this past Sunday.

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When a Patio is More Than a Project

It has been a quiet summer here at the homestead. Other than Rebecca’s baby shower, we haven’t had many people over, which is not normal for a Schisler summer! Last spring, our backyard movie screen came down in a windstorm, and we haven’t figured out how to put it back up since it took the trees with it. We’re working on some ideas to have it back up before next summer! I had a lot of personal appearances for my latest book, and we spent a fair amount of time helping Rebecca and Anthony get ready for the baby (any day now)! But our summer was pretty consumed by one big project.

About a year ago, we attended the beautiful wedding of the young man I consider a son. Rebecca’s best friend for many years, Nick has been as much a part of our family as Rebecca’s husband is. The wedding was held at the bride’s family home where the shower took place a few months prior. The moment I walked into the backyard at Corrine’s shower, I fell in love with the setup. I went home and told Ken that we needed a patio and outdoor entertaining space similar to that one. At the wedding, Ken agreed. I’m pretty sure he agreed because he saw how much I loved the space, but he agreed all the same.

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What is Your Treasure?

“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”(Luke 12:21).

We heard these words in Sunday’s Gospel just before leaving on our summer vacation. Vacations are sacred to us, treasures to be kept in our hearts and cherished. They aren’t tangible, and they can’t be stored physically, but they are precious gifts that we always look forward to and look back upon.

Many years ago, Ken and I made the decision to never skip a family vacation. He has always worked high pressure jobs and rarely has the ability to just take a day off or check out early. Before he had his present job, he traveled so much, he was hardly home for the equivalent of an entire week per month. For his own mental health, we knew that we had to make vacations one of the top priorities in our marriage.

When we lead marriage prep classes for our diocese, we do an exercise in which the couples have to list their individual priorities for their marriage and then share and discuss with their fiancés what their couple priorities for the marriage are. Many of these couples include travel as a priority. We always encourage them to keep that as a priority, especially when they have families, because those times are a treasure indeed.

I’ve written before about how important vacations are in a marriage and family even if it’s just a trip to some place in your home town. But they are more than just jaunts away from home or time off from work.

They are treasures to be grasped and held onto.

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I Pray for Them

This past weekend, Ken and I went out to dinner with another couple. The four of us try very hard to get together about once a month, which isn’t easy with the busy lives we lead, but it’s crucial that we make the effort. We’ve known John and Alix for almost twenty years. Alix and I have been in the same Bible study group for nearly that long. Our kids went to the same school from first grade through high school. Ken and John went on a mission trip to Guatemala together. Our friendship is based on all these things, but what really holds it together is our faith. I have learned so much about prayer, faith, and healing from these wonderful people.

My long-time readers probably know that Ken was in politics for a very long time, almost half our marriage. His political career came to an end during a very tumultuous time in our lives. It was difficult for all of us. Imagine that the person you love most in the world is made into a scapegoat, has his name and reputation smeared by people he trusted, and is dragged through the mud for no other reason than political motivations. It was a heart-breaking time for me, to see my husband’s face on the news and read his name in the paper and know that everything being said was a lie. Rather than being relieved when the state ethics board cleared him 100%, I was angry because our lives had been turned upside down and because the media never once acknowledged his innocence other than a teeny, tiny one paragraph blip hidden at the bottom of an inner page in the local paper. I asked my husband over and over again how he was dealing with all this, how he was coping with the loss of trust and friendship he had, how he showed no anger toward the people who did this to hm, and his response to me was always the same. He simply said, “I pray for them.”

Now, if that doesn’t stop you in your tracks and make you look inward, nothing will.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Matthew 5:44

But there’s more to those four little words than I could comprehend at the time. So much more.

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You Are Special

You Are Special Plate

Over twenty-six years ago, when I was pregnant with Rebecca, a dear family friend gave me a really special gift. On the surface, it doesn’t seem special, but over the years, it has become a cherished item in our family. It’s an item that is used several times a year but only on special occasions – typically birthdays. It’s a reminder that each of us has something to offer, that each of us is unique, that we are all special.

This simple plate that says, You are special today, has made an appearance at occasion after occasion throughout the girls lives. Using it has become a time-honored, beloved tradition in our house. Everyone knows that the table is not completely set unless the plate is in its proper place at the seat of the guest of honor.

It might seem silly, but you see, it’s about so much more than a plate.

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A Father’s Love

All month long, I’ve written and posted about love. I’ve touched on romantic love, self-love, and the love between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters. I’ve talked about our Father’s love more than once. What I haven’t mentioned is the love between a daughter and her father, a love which I happen to think transcends all other types of earthly love as a reflection of the love between a daughter and Our Father.

Pope John Paul II said, “In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.” How true that is.

It took my parents several years to have me. Just as they were in the throes of adoption, I gave them the surprise they’d been praying for. By then, my father, at thirty-three, was a little older than most first-time fathers of the time. Of course, I didn’t realize this until much later in life; but now I am reminded every day how truly blessed I am to still have him with us at eighty-four (eighty-five in April).

Growing up, my father was loved and adored by everyone, which was no surprise as he was always a kid at heart, and he has a heart the size of a mountain.

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Lessons Learned From Gram

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to my family, friends, and those of you who follow me on social media that I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot over the past month. My grandmother was, to say the least, extraordinary. She didn’t win any awards. Gram wasn’t known outside of her hometown. She didn’t do great things or travel to faraway places or lead protests or discover a new star. She didn’t do anything special at all unless you count every single little thing she did with extraordinary love, and she taught me so much.

There are many lessons I learned from my grandmother, but there is little that she taught me through words or preaching or admonishments. Almost everything I learned from her, I leaned by watching her, and I try my best to emulate all that she taught me.

These are the things I will always cherish and strive to uphold.

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The Power of Love

We are now in the month of February. It’s the month of love. It’s the month when lovers express their feelings for each other and typically the month when we begin Lent, the greatest season of love in the Church. It can be a cold month, when this part of the world can be blanketed in snow, when much of nature is dormant or dead, and when the sun is often obscured by clouds or rain or snow. I think it’s also a month of hope, a month of looking forward to spring, the month when vacations and summer camps are planned and colleges are chosen. It’s a month to love and be loved. American journalist Linda Ellerbee once said, “In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other.” The power of love will get us through the coldest of times. It is the greatest force in the universe.

On those winter nights when snow falls silently in a barren world, it’s easy to desire nothing more than to crawl into a hole and retreat from everyone. I say, like Ellerbee observed, that it is at those times, when we feel the coldest, that we should reach out to others, pull them to us, and love them fiercely. It is the power of love which creates the warmth we so desperately need, and I don’t mean just on that one day of year that comes in the middle of this month.

We live in a world that seems to believe that love is nothing more than the sugary-sweet outcome of a Hallmark movie, but true love is so much more than that! True love is the food of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the completeness of the body. It is a powerful thing indeed.

Ken and I got engaged in February–February 13, 1993. We had decided that we wanted to have formal pictures done, so we got dressed up for a photo shoot and dinner afterward. While we’d talked about marriage, I didn’t know when, where, or how our actual engagement would take place. I was truly surprised when, between the photos and dinner, Ken got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. We were so young then, barely adults, and hardly knew what we were pledging to each other when he presented and I accepted the ring I still wear today. It has not always been easy, and I’ve gone to bed angry more than once (don’t lecture me–that’s what I need to do to get myself past whatever has upset me). We’ve had our share of fights, but we’ve had so many more joys. After twenty-eight years of marriage, I wouldn’t change a minute of it. That’s the power of love.

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