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,
Mom

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).

‘Til Death Do Us Part

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. While the world has turned the holiday into nothing more than a day to spend money on Hallmark cards and expensive chocolates, it’s actually a day to celebrate those you love. Last week, I had the pleasure of witnessing eight couples renew their wedding vows at the site of the wedding feast of Cana. I remembered when Ken and I had that same beautiful opportunity three years ago. I felt so blessed, each time, to stand with couples who realize that marriage is something to be obtained, maintained, and sustained, through good times and bad.

Cana
Renewing vows in Cana of Galilee

In the 3rd Century, Roman King Claudius II outlawed weddings as he believed that marriage led soldiers to distraction, and he wanted all men to become soldiers. Valentine was a Catholic priest who secretly married couples and was eventually thrown into jail and executed for refusing to renounce his faith. While in jail, Valentine befriended the jailer, whom he converted, and began teaching the jailer’s young daughter. Before his death, Valentine wrote a note to the young girl, encouraging her to stay close to Jesus. Thus began the tradition of sending notes on Valentine’s Day, a tradition that dates back to the 5th Century when it replaced the Roman festival of Lupercalia. It was thought that a day to celebrate true love was far better than the practice of celebrating spring and fertility by pairing off men and women through a lottery! Though I have to wonder, have things really changed all that much since the 5th Century?

I hear it all the time–the way to meet someone today is through an online dating site. I’m not knocking online dating. I know some couples who were paired by the magic matching algorithm and are quite happy. For some, it’s the best and easiest way to meet a companion or future spouse. For others, it leads to peril and abuse. An article in the Huffington Post points out the drawbacks of online dating. Among them: treating people as mere commodities, lack of willingness to commit, and the possibility of harassment and stalking. The potential for danger when meeting up with someone you only know online is terrifying for this mother of three young women.

I can’t help but wonder if part of the lure of meeting online is because we have become a society where showing any interest in a person of the opposite sex is automatically seen as harassment. After all, in today’s world, how can you let someone know you are interested in them without a) offending them or b) sending a signal that all you want is sex?

Here’s the other thing I think about when recalling the story of Saint Valentine. He was a man who was willing to die to protect the right to marry. Moreover, couples were willing to be imprisoned or killed for love. It would have been much easier for couples to engage in sex or live together without bothering with marriage, but that’s not what they wanted. They understood the importance of marriage, the sanctity of it, and the beauty of being husband and wife. It makes me sad that so many people today choose not to be married.

According to a recent analysis at the University of Maryland, more millennials are staying married after they’ve said, “I do.” Unfortunately, while the divorce rate among post-baby-boomers is decreasing, the amount of people tying the knot has dropped. More people are choosing to remain single, and more couples are choosing to co-habitate. A large part of these decisions is economic stability. College-educated adults are more likely to marry because they can afford to have a family and can afford to make the choice to stay home to raise their children. Marriage has become more of a status symbol and less of a natural progression of love and fidelity. Brides and grooms are getting older, and the amount of children they are bearing is lessening.

What would Saint Valentine think of our world and relationships today? Would he shake his head, perhaps even shed a tear, over modern views of marriage? If marriage was outlawed, or even just looked down upon, would he still risk his life or reputation to marry those who seek his help? Would people even bother? Would they risk their lives, their reputations, their self-reliance and pride, to take vows to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do them part?

As the sacred author tells us in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” And as is affirmed in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

Saint Valentine knew that men and women need each other and that marriage is not merely a way to bolster one’s status but a commitment made to each other and to God. May all of you, and your loved ones, have a very happy Valentine’s Day.

Primacy Hearts.jpg
Step stones at the Primacy of Peter, Galilee

What I was writing about a year ago this week: Ashes and Chocolates

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.

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).

Spending a Fortune on the Marriage

35553327_2182882288395900_5241912812019646464_nA young friend of our family has just announced her engagement. We are so happy for her and praying that she will have a wonderful wedding and even more wonderful marriage. As today is my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, I’d like to take the time to offer some advice to those young people out there planning their own nuptials and expand on what I told our friend:
1. As you plan the wedding, don’t spend money; spend time with those you love.
2. Spend more time and energy planning the marriage than the wedding.

When Ken and I got married, twenty-five years ago, we wanted a grand wedding with all of the accouterments – the fairy tale dress and tuxedos, the large wedding party, the enormous guest list, an unforgettable nuptial Mass, a full-course dinner, and a joy-filled evening of dancing and partying. We got it all. We hosted 300 guests, and we didn’t break the bank doing it.Wedding

Here’s how:

Ken and Amy Wedding DayThe Dress and Veil
My aunt, my mother, and I scoured the stores to find the perfect dress at the perfect price. We bought it, off the rack, at a discount bridal shop. It was on the “last year’s fashions” rack and was exactly what I wanted. The veil was made with my mother’s wedding tiara. I wore it for my First Communion as did my both of my cousins and, years later, all three of my daughters. We added new tule and some pearls, and it was the perfect accessory for my dress. I wanted lots of lace, a modest bodice, a beautiful back, and a detailed train. I got it all at a bargain basement price. I just had to be patient, wait and relax, and enjoy the hunt with my aunt and my mom.

Wedding3The Ceremony
The church that my parents attended (in the parish where I attended when in high school and before marriage) was under construction, so we headed up the road to the church I grew up in, and it was still as beautiful as I remembered it. We worked with our Pastor, Father Paul Dudziak, to plan a meaningful ceremony rich in faith and tradition. Afterward, a friend of Ken’s lamented that he had never attended a wedding that was an hour and a half long! It was worth every minute. I’ve never been a fan of the ten-minute wedding. I believe a wedding should be something that represents the eternal love of Jesus Christ as well as the eternal bond of marriage. I wanted everyone, especially Ken and me, to leave the church knowing that something special, something lasting, something sacred had just taken place.

Wedding1The Flowers, Photography, and Cake
Our flower arrangements and bouquets were designed by mother and me with the help of a family friend who owned a florist. She helped us choose exquisite selections that matched the color theme and my personal tastes while staying within a strict budget. Our biggest single expense was probably the photographer, but we could afford to spend a little more because we cut costs everywhere else, including the wedding cake. A friend of ours owned a bakery and made the most mouth-watering cakes you’ve ever tasted. When we asked her about making the cake, she insisted on making it as her gift to us. We have never forgotten her generosity.

The Venue
We held our reception at the church hall next to our parish’s yet-to-be-constructed church. It wasn’t fancy, but it was affordable, and the decorations that my mother and her friend planned and designed transformed the room from an ordinary church hall into an elegant banquet room. We hired someone with event experience to make sure the food was on the buffet table and to do all of the serving and cleanup of the dishes.

Ken and Amy's Wedding34-001

The Food
Believe it or not, we made all of the food ourselves. Yes, we made a traditional Southern Maryland Fall Dinner, for 300 people, all by ourselves. Every – single – bite – with the exception of frozen rolls that were baked fresh during the ceremony. For months, everyone in the family chipped in to pick crab meat. Throughout the summer, we saved enough meat for my grandmother and Ken’s grandmother to fill their freezers with homemade crab balls. My mother made hundreds of her unforgettable pumpkin muffins and froze those as well. My father and my grandmother spent days, leading up to the wedding, making the Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham, a delicacy only found in Southern Maryland. My uncle worked his magic to grill melt-in-your-mouth pit beef. And the day before the wedding, all of the women in our family, my Godmother, my bridal party, and several family friends, gathered in the church hall to cut fruit and veggies, steam shrimp, and assemble trays while the men followed my mother’s decorating instructions. We talked, we laughed, and we reminisced. It was a day that I remember and cherish as much as the wedding day itself, and in some ways, even more. 

Wedding2The Marriage
But the truth is that none of that would have mattered. None of it would have meant anything at all. All of it would have been for nothing if Ken and I had not spent as much effort planning and working on our marriage. Twenty-five years together, in today’s world, is a long time. Sometimes, it feels like twice that. There have been days when we didn’t like each other very much. There have been moments when we wondered if it was worth it. There have been fights and slammed doors and long drives to clear my head. But in the end, we meant it when we said, “until death do us part.” We’ve lived through the good times and bad, the richer and poorer, the sickness and health. We’ve laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed. But we’ve always been there for each other. We’ve never turned our backs on each other, never considered life without the other, never looked to anything beyond what we have together.

IMG_8196.JPGDon’t ever let anyone tell you that, if you’re right for each other, everything else will fall into place. Don’t let anyone tell you that marriage shouldn’t be hard sometimes. Don’t believe that you won’t have to work at it, even harder than you work at your job, your studies, your goals. But don’t ever think for a moment that it isn’t worth it to have someone to come home to who loves you more than anyone or anything in the world. To have someone to share your dreams and your failings. Someone to hold you when you cry and someone who knows how to make you laugh.

And don’t make the mistake that so many make these days and wait until it’s too late! There will NEVER be enough money. There will NEVER be the right time in your career. There will NEVER be plenty of time down the road for the timing to be right. We got married at 23 and 24. Unheard of today! We still had several years of graduate and law school ahead of us. We had nothing except college loans and a lot of hope and dreams. And we had each other, a plan, and faith.

As we read in Ecclesiastes, “Therefore, it is better for two to be together, than for one to be alone. For they have the advantage of their companionship. If one falls, he shall be supported by the other.” (Ecc. 4:9-10). And in Proverbs: “To find a wife is the find happiness, a favor granted by the Lord” (Prob 18:22). So, to those young couples getting ready to embark on the most wonderful time of your lives, don’t worry about spending a fortune on your wedding. A small budget can still give you the wedding of your dreams! But do spend a fortune on your marriage, paid for with all the treasures that will ensure a happy life together – love, joy, communication, tenderness, understanding, patience, resiliency, forgiveness, and an abundance of faith in God.

11-2

What I was writing about a year ago this week: A Little Time to Spare.

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

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her 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.

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).

 

Lessons for Lasting Love

DSC_1911“No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” Mark Twain

I recently realized that I am no longer of the age when my friends are getting married.  I am now of the age when friends of my daughter are getting married.  How did that happen?  Rebecca, who will be a senior in college next year, already has a friend who has graduated and gotten married and others who are now becoming engaged.  It’s strange to think that sometime in the next five years, Rebecca will probably be thinking about taking that next step.  What’s even scarier is that I’m not sure young people today have any idea what marriage really is.  Honestly, did any of us actually know what was involved when we took those vows?  Were we simply planning for that one day, or truly thinking about for our future?  Perhaps it has been the same through all generations, but today it seems that marriages are disposable, vows are no more than wishes, commitments are fleeting.  I pray every day that I have instilled in my daughters what marriage really means – both the good and the bad.  Here are some of the things that I learned over the past twenty-two years.

Love (and thereby, marriage) does mean having to say you’re sorry.  I’m sorry, Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.  It’s a nice sentiment, but nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes.  Owning up to those mistakes is one of the most important things to learn and actually do.  Resentment is too easily built up, so while those simple words, “I’m sorry,” can’t take away the pain, they can open the door to healing for both of you.

It’s okay to go to bed angry.  I know, you’ve heard otherwise your entire life; but sometimes, in order to say “I’m sorry” to someone else, you need time to realize that the words are true.  Nothing beats a good night’s sleep, and perhaps a good cry on the way there, to be able to recognize that things are never as bad as they seem.  Moreover, trying to get to the place where you’re no longer angry is not easily done in the heat of the fight.  Sometimes, the sooner the conversation ends, the better.

Put away your phones, turn off your TV, curb your social life, and spend time in conversation.  Remember back when you were first getting to know each other?  All of those hours spent in conversation over dinner, on the phone late at night, or even using FaceTime were all meaningful.  That’s when you opened up to each other, let out your feelings, your doubts, your fears, your hopes, your wishes.  Don’t ever let that end.  I remember once, when Ken and I were first married, we were out to dinner and engaged in conversation when Ken just stopped and motioned to an elderly couple across the restaurant.  Ken observed, “They haven’t said one word to each other all night.”  He looked at me and said, “Let’s never let that happen to us.”  Yes, I admit that there are times when it’s nice to just be quiet and enjoy the moment, but those times when you can sit and talk without distraction are so rare.  Take advantage of them.

It’s all right to argue and disagree.  Sure, you stand before God and declare that you are now one, but let’s get real.  You are you, and he is he (or she is she).  You will not always agree, even on the big things.  It isn’t the argument that counts.  It’s making sure that you find a solution, a compromise, or a way around the situation that you can both live with.  You won’t win every argument, but neither should he.  Marriage is give and take.  Learn that quickly, and deal with it.

Hold hands.  Cuddle.  Sleep curled up together.  Kiss hello and goodbye.  Never lose the desire to touch the one you love.  Once you learn to live without the other person’s touch, you will lose the need for it.  Intimacy holds a marriage together.  Nurture it.  Every day.

Speak kindly to one another.  Full disclosure here.  This is the one I have the hardest time adhering to.  I am impatient and often intolerant.  I expect everything to be done on my timeline and in my way.  While I have the skill to be tactful (a former boss always sent me to deal with problem patrons because she knew I could be tactful yet get to the point), I don’t seem to have any idea how to use that skill with those I love.  I try to always be kind. I teach and preach kindness, but my tongue is often quicker than my brain, and it gets me into trouble.  I promise to work on that, and I encourage you to do the same.  It’s the hardest habit I’ve ever tried to break, but I work on it every day.  Actions may speak louder than words, but words can cut right into someone’s soul.

For those who are making their wedding plans as I write, always remember that the marriage is far more important than the wedding.  Enjoy the time spent planning it, and know that it will not be perfect.  Some small thing, or dare I say, maybe a big thing, will go wrong.  Move on.  It’s a day, not a reflection of the rest of your life.  Face it with love and humility.  Take your vows seriously.  Stand up before your friends and family in an actual church.  The reception can be wherever you want, but treat your marriage like the sacred event that it is.  Pray for your spouse and your marriage every day.  Ask God to be a part of it, on that special day and always, for He is the rock upon which you can build a strong foundation.

Amy Schisler is an author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages who lives with 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 as chosen by a group of independent Christian publishers.  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.

Listing for Love

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001I am a list maker.  I’ve been a list maker since I first learned to write and realized the magic that accompanies crossing off things accomplished.  Sometimes, the more I cross off, the more I add to my list. I’ve had a list on my desk for about a month now that lays out all that I want to accomplish this fall.  My Katie laughs when she reads it because one item is “Write a book.”

“You’re always writing a book, Mom, but that’s so cute.”

Yes, I’m always writing a book, but to see it on a list makes it real, makes it something that must be done and must be crossed off.  It’s a means to an end.

When I graduated from college, my best friend and I sat down and wrote lists.  They weren’t lists about what we wanted to accomplish in life or what our goals were for our twenties or beyond.  We had those lists already, and they were getting longer and longer by the day.  No, just for fun, we wrote lists of what we were seeking in the perfect guy.  It began as a joke, a way of blowing off a steam about the fact that we were now four years older, four years more experienced and worldly, four years wiser, and still single.  But as we compiled the list, we grew more serious, each of us reading each other’s lists and critiquing, improving, and offering further suggestions.  After all, who knows you better than your best friend?

Within a year, I was engaged, and within a couple of years after that, so was she.  I still credit that list with helping me focus on whom and what I wanted because, miraculously, when I met Ken, I was able to cross off all 25 things on the list, not 20 or 24, but all 25.  Not everything on the list is as important to me today as it was then.  Half of the things probably wouldn’t even make it if I had to write it all over again.  One of the things was that I needed a man who would change with me as I grew older, who could adapt to any situation.  That was near the bottom of the list, but well over twenty years later, I see that it should have been at the top.

So if I were telling my daughters to write their own lists (and no, I’m not doing that because this list is not a game – it’s a serious, what I want for the rest of my life list), but if I were telling them to write their lists, here are the things I would recommend they put at the top:

  1. He must be adaptable to any situation with the realization that life isn’t a long, superhighway.  It’s a twisting, turning, up and down hills and mountains, country road with surprises around every bend.  Be ready to change course and handle the wrecks along the way.
  2. He must share some of your interests but must also have interests of his own.  While you should share the most exciting adventures together, it’s okay to do things apart; in fact, it’s a must.
  3. He should not say “I love you,” within a month or even two, and when he says it, he needs to look you in the eye and say it from the heart.  Those three words should be the most important words he ever says to you.  They need to have true meaning and depth.  They are not a way to get you in bed or make you feel special.  They are the three words that he should tattoo on your heart and his and be willing to put them into action every day for the rest of your lives.
  4. He needs to dance.  He doesn’t have to like or be good at it, but he needs to be willing to do it.  You should not be that one person who, at every wedding (and by the time you write this list, there will be wedding, after wedding, after wedding) or at every family party, dances with friends to every fast song and then sits by his side and watches everyone else dance the slow songs.  It’s during the slow songs that your bodies communicate, and it’s during the fast songs that you let loose and have fun.  Do it together. Even if he looks like he’s the star in a Steve Martin movie.
  5. Watch him carefully when he is with his mother.  The old saying is so very true, how he treats his mother is how he will treat his wife.  Is he kind to her?  Respectful?  Helpful?  It’s okay if he complains about her a little.  In fact, that lets you know that he’s not still hanging onto the apron strings.
  6. Never make him choose between you and his mother unless you are certain that he will choose you.  If he won’t, then stop here.  You don’t need to look at anything else on the list.  BUT be careful about what you are asking him to choose because his mother will become your mother.  Treat her as such.  You will find that you will need her someday when there’s no better ally than her to have on your side.
  7. He must pay for that first date, and the second, and even the third.  If he’s worth a fourth, then maybe you can treat, but don’t insist or overdo it.  A true gentleman expects to pay.  It’s a matter of respect.  If he doesn’t want to impress you, then what’s the point?
  8. He must care about how he looks.  This isn’t about vanity.  It’s about respect.  If he doesn’t have respect for himself and the way he appears to others, then he won’t have respect for you.  Of course, if his phone is full of selfies, or he can’t stop glancing in the rearview mirror to check his hair, then ask him to stop the car and let you out.  Walk away, and never look back.
  9. Your family must be as important as his.  Do not let him or his family make every decision concerning your social calendar.  If he won’t spend time with your little sisters (even when they’re being bratty), then he will never be a good brother-in-law or father.  If he dates you, he dates everyone in your family and must be willing to accept and spend time with them.
  10. Most importantly, he must be kind.  To you, to your family, to his family, to your friends and his, to his colleagues.  He shouldn’t be a pushover or passive aggressive, but genuinely kind.  He must always think about others, especially you.  “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” St. Basil

So there’s your start.  Your list will be longer and will include trivial things like “Must listen to _______ music,” and “Doesn’t eat all of the popcorn,” and that’s okay.  You will have to live with this person for the rest of your life.  Have fun, but think it through, and when you’re finally able to cross everything off, you will feel more than accomplishment.  You will feel completion.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online.  Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.  Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

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.

A Long Line of Love

Nan's Family Pics68My three daughters are extremely lucky in that they come from a very long line of love. On both sides of their family, they have been blessed with a long and loving history. From their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and as far back as we can trace, they have been able to witness couples who have loved unconditionally. Yesterday, I was very happy to wish my parents a happy 52nd wedding anniversary. They learned how to love unconditionally from their own parents, and are a shining example to the rest of us.

Today, I am honored to share with you a guest blog written by my 14-year-old daughter. It exemplifies what real love truly is.

A life lesson that is important to me is to be proud of whom and what you love. This is so, so important. It wasn’t exactly told to me, but instead it was shown. They didn’t know they were showing me something that still stands out to me today. I don’t even think they realized how much so, but my great grandparents were very proud of each other. They loved each other so much and made each other so happy that they talked about how great the other one was, and they loved glorifying everything good about each other.

I strongly believe that my great grandparents, or Nan and Pop to me, were a couple of very special people. They met when they were teenagers and Nan was walking down the street, and Pop told his friends that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen and that he was determined to marry her someday. Well, if I know something about my grandfather, it’s that he never gave up on something he wanted. I think everyone finds true love, but theirs was so strong.

I had the privilege of knowing my great grandparents for a few years of my life. I wish they were still here with us, but even in their short time with me, they showed me so many things, and they impacted my life greatly. I lived across the street from them until Pop passed away in 2011, and Nan couldn’t fend for herself, so she lived in a nursing home. Living so close to them was a blessing. I could walk across the street after school, and they would tell me stories, and I loved hearing them. They were such lively people who never ceased to amaze me.

Hearing them talk about each other really showed me how important it is to be proud of the person you love. Before I started to notice the little things they did and said for each other, I don’t think it was as big of a deal to me. As I got older and their health declined, I really started noticing. After Pop passed away, Nan told nonstop stories about how they met and how great a person he was. I don’t think, even once, did Nan not talk about Pop during our frequent visits.

Both of them have passed on by now, but one thing I will never forget is when my grandfather passed away.  They had a military service because he was a veteran. During the service, they presented a flag to my grandmother. When the guards handed her the flag she began to cry, and the only words she could manage were “I’m so proud to have loved him.” This was such a powerful moment in my life, and I could never forget it. I’m proud to have called them my grandparents, too.

  • Morgan Schisler, 2015

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Letter to My Daughters’ Future Husbands

DSC04396When our youngest daughter was born, the first thing my husband said when he saw her was “she looks just like my sister.” The second thing he said was, “Oh God, we have to pay for three weddings.”  While I do agree that we will need to pay for their weddings, I’m not concerned. My mother and I have coordinated several beautiful and even lavish weddings for family and friends, both efficiently and economically. My concern is not at all the wedding but the marriage. With that in mind, here’s what I have to say.

Dear Future Husband,

I don’t know that we have met yet.  Perhaps we have, perhaps not.  You may be someone my daughter has known for years or someone she has yet to meet.  Regardless, you don’t know her like I do, nor have you walked in my shoes, so allow me to give you some advice.  She is not a princess, though she may think she is, and as far as you’re concerned, that’s how it should be.  Treat her as such, as someone who is to be honored, respected and revered.  In return, she will treat you the same way.

Tend to your marriage like it s a garden.  Weed out mistrust, judgement, defensiveness, and fear.  Prune back any hurt that grows there (because it will), and water the good seeds you plant – your hopes, your dreams, and eventually your children.  Let the sun shine on it every day through your love by complimenting, helping, and most important, talking; and don’t be afraid of the rain and storms.  Welcome them, too, as ways to strengthen your marriage.  Clean up the fallen branches after the storm clears, or they will clutter your lives.  Because there will be storms, and there will be things to clear away, but by working together, you can weather anything life hurls at you.

Most of all, trust that God has brought you together and that He will guide you.  Go to Church together, pray together – at meals, at bedtime, in good times and bad.  Make your faith the foundation upon which you build all things, and know that with God, all things are possible.

Whether you are in your twenties or just barely into your teens, remember that any girl you meet could be the one, my daughter, but that there will only be that one.  Don’t fall prey to the norms of society.  Every girl you date will be someone’s wife, but perhaps not your own.  Keep that in mind in everything you do.  Would you do “that” with someone else’s wife?  Would you want someone else doing that with yours?

In the end, all I want is your happiness, all of you, my three daughters and their husbands.  Shower each other with love, strive for your dreams, encourage each other to reach for the stars, and always be there for each other no matter what.  Know that their father and I are here for you.  Even now, I love you all.

Love, Mom

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com