All I Want for Christmas…

Our alarm clock sounded at 4am Monday morning. For the third day in a row, in a string of many days to come, my husband rose early to go to his parents’ house to be there before his father woke up. Needing round the clock care now, his father can’t be left alone, and Ken’s mother can’t do it by herself. There’s only so much time his sister can take off, and his brother lives in another state. So, I set the clock Sunday night, kissed Ken goodbye Monday morning, and watched him leave the room, his shoulders slumped, his heart heavy.

A few hours later, I was on the way home from the gym when I heard the news that a bomb had been detonated on or near a New Jersey transit train at a station in NYC. I immediately stopped the car and texted my dear friend, George, a daily traveler on the NJT into NYC. Thank Heaven, the train was at another station, and he was safe. To say I was relieved is an understatement. I don’t think I can take more bad news. Between our family’s daily struggles, a number of sick and dying parents among the friends in our group this holiday season, a  cousin’s house burning down over the weekend, the never-ending news cycle of lying, corruption, and perverseness, as well as the threats to peace on earth, I’ve had enough of bad news. Haven’t we all?

hallmark_channel_christmas-620x412A little while later, when I sat down to work, an article in the Washington Post caught my eye. Titled, We can’t take any more of 2017, so we’ve turned to the Hallmark Channel in desperation, the article had me hooked. Though we don’t have cable, I’ve been stalking YouTube for Hallmark Christmas movies. I’ve been through every sweet Christmas movie on Amazon and Netflix, and I can’t get enough to satisfy my craving. I admit, I’ve always been a sweet movie fanatic, a Hallmark fan to the end. I tried paying for Hallmark Movies Now but found it a waste of money at Christmas time because it contains only a handful of holiday movies, and they’re all old. Not fair, Hallmark, not fair. I’d pay good money to have access to what’s on their channel without having to have cable. Do you hear that, Hallmark?

Anyway, back to the article. I think I speak for the masses when I say, we are ready for good news, sweet romance, and happy endings. And though these movies aren’t usually Christ-centered, they do offer those three things (my good friend and fellow blogger, Anne Kennedy, wrote a great blog that pretty much sums up the standard Hallmark Christmas movie plot).

Sweet RomanceWe all need hope and goodness in our lives.  Luckily, there are many of us out there, aside from Hallmark, working very hard to provide just that. There’s a whole category of fiction that is Clean and Wholesome Romance, or as it’s more commonly known, Sweet Romance. Sex, if any, is behind closed doors, foul language is kept to a minimum or nonexistent, and deaths, even murders, are not graphically depicted; yet the couple still finds their way to happily ever after.

I find it no coincidence that, just twelve days before Christmas, today’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 11:28-30:

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

It’s crunch time. We’re all trying to keep our heads above water, and we all have things going on in our lives, but then we have this great reminder that no matter what’s going on, Jesus is there. He is not only the reason for the season, He is our hope, our counsel, our way to peace. Whether He’s acknowledged by the Hallmark Channel or not, He is there.

So, the next time you’ve had it with the news, or even with your own personal life, know that there is a place to where you can escape. And when you’ve run out of movies to watch on Hallmark, look for a clean and wholesome romance novel. And above all, look toward Heaven. There may never be a time without troubles or peace on Earth, but there is peace to come – a real-life happily ever after. I know a happy ending is all our family wants for Christmas this year. I’m pretty sure we’re not alone.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Lighting the Way This Christmas

9780692946176Amy 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.

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)

 

America, Our Ship is Sinking

DSC09204-001I write today’s blog with a heavy heart.  A great feeling of gloom and despair has settled into my soul, and I can’t seem to shake it.  And when I look around me, I see that same despair on the faces of so many people.  We’re all just barely holding on.  We all look like Rose as she let go of Jack’s hand and let him sink into the icy waters in the glow of the last lights on the sinking Titanic.  We are the survivors with little hope of being rescued.  Yet it isn’t the political plight of the country that upsets and worries me the most.  It’s all of the other things that we are losing in the process.

Every day I see another post on FaceBook where someone is lamenting about all of the people he or she was forced to ‘de-friend.’  I hear conversations in public about people who will no longer speak to or associate with other people because of their political views.  I’ve had arguments within my own family that I deeply regret.  One party cries sexual assault while another cries rape, and the people are just crying for peace.  The “p” word has been used and referred to more times in mainstream media and online in the past few days than I ever wanted to hear throughout my whole life, and now it’s something my girls have to hear every day.  I’m just sick of it.  When are we all going to grow up?  When are we going to demand better for ourselves, our country, and our children?

There is a clash of wills going on in every community, every church, every home, every family.  We have become savages who can only articulate (and I use the word very loosely) by yelling and screaming and insisting that one person is right when the reality is, everybody is wrong.  Is that what the ‘Great Experiment’ is really all about?  Brother against brother, father against son, mother against daughter?  Didn’t we fight that battle already?  Didn’t we lose 620.000 people in a battle to save our country from bigotry, segregation, hatred, and fear?  Why are we still fighting it every day in our streets, in our media, and in our homes?  What is wrong with the people of this country that we can’t make the tiniest attempt to find the good in our neighbors instead of only seeing the bad?  And on top of that, we actually make an effort to search out and dig up only the worst!

Since the writing of the Constitution, we have come ten steps forward and fifteen steps back.  There are too many who think only of themselves instead of reaching out to lend a hand to others.  There are too many who see the color of one’s skin and can’t see the makeup of the soul.  There are too many who talk about fighting for justice but support a system that is anything but, that allows people of different colors, backgrounds, or economic status to be held to a different standard.  The same people who talk about reform and rehabilitation, won’t allow education in prisons.  The same people who preach tolerance, spew hate.  The same people who claim to want all people held accountable for their actions will hide and cheat and steal to cover up their own crimes.  Am I talking about a political party, the current candidates, the Republican establishment, or the Democratic Administration? Yes, yes, yes, and yes – all of them, and all of us.  Because the problem didn’t begin with the politicians, and it doesn’t end with them either.

Let’s stop bashing each other, stop spewing hate, stop objectifying women (in ANY and ALL ways), stop seeing the color of skin, stop teaching our children that it’s okay to be a bully, to always have the last word, to never allow topics to be open for discussion, that what ‘I want’ matters more than what ‘we need.’  Stop the de-friending and start being a friend.  Let’s look for common ground, find what’s wrong and fix it, find what’s right and expand upon it.  We’re in real trouble, folks.  There’s talk about taking up arms.  I’ve seen posts saying that neither candidate, if elected, will survive their first term (literally).  There are those (in both parties) who are sending up a rally cry for revolt.  But you argue, haven’t we come so far that these things are just farfetched and unreasonable?  One look at the dirty, disgusting, disparaging, and vitriolic rhetoric on social media at any given time says that we are not.  For the sake of our families, our country, and our world, let’s put an end to this hatred.  And let’s start within our own homes and on our own streets.  Our ship is sinking.  Let’s find a way to hold on and make it through this dark night.  And let’s pray that help is on the horizon.

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

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), Whispering Vines (2016)

Just Thinking About Tomorrow

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When I was a little girl, I attended my first major Broadway musical and spent the following few weeks memorizing every word to every song.  I’ve never stopped singing those songs and enjoyed watching Rebecca and then Katie play roles in school and community productions of the same play.  As a child, I’m not sure I realized how many lessons I was learning cast-001from the little orphan girl who took in a stray dog and softened the heart of a grouchy, old millionaire, but I have always remembered and adhered to her words “the sun will come out tomorrow.”

As I watched the morning news on Saturday, I saw updates on the terror attacks in Mali, new terror threats to Brussels, and sparring politicians across this great nation.  But here is the thing that struck me the most – the people of Paris gathered in the streets this past weekend for a public street party to show the world that they will not stay home, that life goes on.  Almost fifteen years after 9/11, we can all attest to that.  Things change, people are lost, the world is shaken, but the sun still rises, and human beings continue living, striving for the best, reaching for the stars, and living the good life as best they can.

For every eight people who leave this world, there are nineteen babies born.

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There are approximately 13,000 terror attacks somewhere in the world each year, but 2.3 million weddings per year take place in the US alone.

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Somewhere in the world today, a child is having a birthday party,

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a school is welcoming grandparents,

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multi-generational families are giving thanks,

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a group of friends are worshiping together,

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a family is taking home a new pet,

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a farmer is tending to his field,DSC02490-001

and a concert is being attended.

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People are still climbing to new heights,

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steering toward the goals,

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breaking new strides,

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and celebrating their achievements.

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And every single night, we go to bed with the knowledge that no matter what happens in the world, the sun will come up tomorrow.

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