Finding Peace

A couple weeks ago, we set out on an evening adventure to see the Neowise comet. The outing was a bust. There was too much cloud cover; and, with no visible stars, we weren’t sure we had the right angle. It was a pleasant evening, though, sitting on the dock, listening to music and talking as we waited to see if the clouds would make way for the brightest comet to appear in our skies in over a quarter century. We didn’t see the comet, but we were treated to a beautiful twilight sky, and we certainly couldn’t complain about that!

Though we weren’t able to see Neowise that night, we were undeterred. We looked at the weather forecast and chose another night two days hence. We anxiously awaited our next attempt, and guess what…

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A World Without God

My father is a firm believer that we are living in a world without God and that God, angry with us, is showing us His wrath. I don’t believe in a vengeful, wrath-filled God. Jesus dispelled that when He was here on earth. However, I do believe that, where God is not welcome, evil fills the void. We, as a nation, have turned our backs on God. He is not wanted in our schools, our government, our hospitals, our military, our public spaces. I daresay, He is not welcome in many private spaces either. We have shoved Him out of our lives and left the door wide open for evil to enter in and take up residence. 

I don’t care if you believe in Satan or demons or anything like that. That’s a theological debate that has been ongoing for centuries. However, there can be no doubt that, call it what you will, there is pure evil in the world. How else do you describe a massacre like the one that just took place on Las Vegas? If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is. Murders, rapes, drug addiction, family violence, and a horde of other evils plague us every day, and it’s only getting worse. How can one not label that the work of an evil presence in our midst?

We live in world where God is mocked, where people are told to do as they wish, where pleasure is seen as the only thing worth obtaining, and where we value things, including celebrity and power, over virtues. We live in a world where people claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” What does that even mean? I was fascinated by the most recent results of the Pew Research Center study of religious landscapes. Those who said they were “spiritual but not religious” were mostly under 40, unmarried, childless, and making less than $100,000 per year. Most had some college or less. Almost 85% rarely or never attend any kind of religious service. 

Why do I bring this up? Because I think it’s a good snapshot of where we are in America today. We have lost our foundation. So many young people are no longer getting married and are choosing to have one child or none. Many never read or hear or learn about God. And while the vast majority of these “spiritual” people believe in God (over 91%), they really have no idea what or who God is, how to relate to Him, or why He is important. We are raising a generation of people who believe that they are their own god, that only their decisions matter, and that being “happy” can only be found through self-gratification. Is it any wonder that evil can so easily slip into and become commonplace in our lives?

St FrancisThe next question is, what can we do to combat the evil that has taken up residence in our world? The answer is so simple it sounds trite, impossible even. Be kind. Be loving. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. BE CHRIST. Be Christ to everyone. More than once, I’ve written a few blogs about bringing peace, being a person of encouragement, and kindness (Be Kind and “In the End, Only Kindness Matters”). Many others have as well, but a few words written down will never make a difference. What will make a difference is you and me and others, spending every day of our lives trying to make this world a better place. On this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, let’s all strive to be instruments of peace, to treat other with kindness and respect, and to be Christ to the world. 

I pray for the people killed and injured in Las Vegas. I pray for those suffering throughout our country and our world. I pray for those who are lost and hopeless. I pray that we find a way to let God back into our lives. He is waiting for us. All we have to do open the door and ask Him to come back in.

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What I was writing about one year ago this week: Nine Reasons Why Saying Yes is Not a Weakness.

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 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. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-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)

An Instrument of Peace

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“Weep not for me; but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).  Those words have been haunting me for the past 24 hours.  I hear them in the silence.  I see them being said when I close my eyes.  To whom were these words directed?  What do they mean?  Of course, they were being said to the women of Jerusalem who wept for Jesus along the Way of Sorrows; but they were directed, not only to those women, but to all future generations, to all of us.  Many of us worry about our futures, about our children, and about this world.  What will happen?  What can we do?  Those questions lead me to another familiar set of words that are perhaps more important to keep in mind: “Make me a channel of your peace” (Prayer of St. Francis).  I realize it takes more than just one person to make a change in this world as big as the one we need, but didn’t it also take just one person to start the ball rolling towards violence and hate?  Every road to hate begins with just one person, one remark made from a high office, from a protest march, from a political stage, even from an altar.  Once one person begins spewing hate and destruction, isn’t it just one small step for others to jump on the bandwagon?  And no matter how many voices are shouting in hate, it only takes one person to carry it out.  It took one person to assassinate Lincoln, one person to assassinate Kennedy, one person to assassinate Martin Luther King Jr, one person to shoot Ronald Reagan.  So why can’t it take just one person to begin the journey toward peace? Read more

Come to Child’s Pose

1st day of school (4)Everyone who has ever taken a yoga class has heard the words, “Whenever you need a break, come to child’s pose.”  This morning, as we all went into child’s pose, on our knees with our heads bowed, those words really sank in for me.  Typically, my mind goes to, I’ve been doing yoga for three years, I don’t need to go to child’s pose.  I don’t want to take a break.  Inevitably, though, when our instructor tells us to move on to downward dog, there’s a little voice in my head that says, No, it feels good to be in child’s pose!  And today, I had a revelation.  In life, we all need a break sometimes.  We all need to come to child’s pose. Read more

What is the Answer?

DSCN6495Let me begin by saying that this is not a political commentary. I think of it as a public introspection, a searching for answers where, perhaps, there is no real answer. I have always tried to act compassionately, to put others needs before myself. I am a passionate defender of the unborn, a believer in the dignity of all human life, and volunteer for social and humanitarian causes; yet today, I find myself at a crossroads. My heart and head are at odds, and I don’t know that there is anyone out there who can help me find the right answers to my questions.

First, I am a student of history and a firm believer in the adage that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I also believe that we are currently embroiled in the Third World War. While it is a war of weapons, it is also a war of ideology, not unlike the Cold War during which I was raised. It is a war of name calling, of hatred spewing, and of closed hearts and minds as much as it is a war of physical mass destruction. We are witnessing what our grandfathers and great-grandfathers witnessed with the aggression of Hitler, yet we have no single name to attach to this threat, just an ideology. How do we fight against an aggressive ideology in which nobody knows who the real enemy is?  For I do not believe that the enemy is all Muslims.

I’ve known people of Muslim descent and practicing Muslims, and I know that they are not bad people. They are peaceful people who do not subscribe to the beliefs of those such as ISIS; so I wonder, as we’ve all heard others say many times, why do they not speak out? I’m not talking about those in war-ravaged countries or those who are under constant threat or surveillance, but those who are free to stand up and say “this is not right, this is not what we believe.”  There are few places like Jordan, where all religions are welcome and where many of the current refugees have been able to flee; so where are the rest of the Muslim countries and their leaders? Read more

Casting for Memories

Fly Fishing Fly Fishing1I was listening to my favorite radio show this morning, Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd, and he mentioned that he had gone fishing in Wyoming over the weekend.  For the rest of the ride home, I thought about my favorite fishing memory and how much it meant to me, still means to me.  I grew up spending my summers on the water with my grandfather.  I have many fond memories of jumping off the dock with my cousins, crabbing with Granddad (the subject of my first book), and going fishing.  Often, my father would join us if it wasn’t a weekday or if he and mom had taken off from work and were down at Grandma’s with us for a few days.  Fishing was a past time that we all enjoyed, and I still enjoy it today. Read more

Just Breathe

IMG_8243Breathe.  We all do it.  Ultimately it’s what keeps all of us alive.  Without breath, there is no life.  About it, songs have been sung, books have been written, and even movies have been made. In the Bible, we are told that God breathed life into Adam.  This was essentially the very first breath of life.

I am often asked how I do all that I do – manage a household, be a loving and devoted wife and mother, run a Girl Scout camp, volunteer at two schools, maintain a blog, website, and other social media, and write books.  Most people who know me know that I am a rather calm person.  It takes a lot to get me befuddled.  So what is my secret?  It is simple.  I trust in God for He is my strength through which all things are possible.  And I breathe.

Sometimes all I need is a calming breath in and out.  Sometimes I need several breaths and a prayer.  Other times, I need time and space to reconnect to myself and the world.  But at all times, I simply

– need

– to

– breathe.

I often tell my girls, when they are worried or beginning to panic, that a cleansing breath or two is all it takes to maintain or regain calm and put your life back into focus.  Whether it is a ten second intake and release of breath, an hour at Mass, or a two week vacation, the key is simple.  Whatever battles you’re fighting, roads you’re traveling, or mountains you’re climbing…

Just breathe.

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