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?

We are raising our children in a world filled with hate.  This hate is not being bred.  People are not born evil; they become evil, often due to the people and circumstances around them.  There is no “evil gene,” no “hate gene.” Every person, event, book, movie, experience that a person has, shapes the person they become.  What are we teaching our children when we talk about others, mock others, put others down?  What are we teaching our children when we turn our backs on those in need?  What are we teaching our children when we act like we are better, know more, deserve more than other people?  In the same vein, what are we teaching our children when we hand them everything and make them work for nothing, when we don’t teach them what it is to value someone or something?  When are we going to realize that everybody around us watches everything we do and listens to everything we say?  When are we going to realize that each one of us has the ability to make an impact on somebody else, both good and bad?

As we enter the holiest time of the year in the Christian calendar, let us all remember that each one of us has the ability to rise above our station.  Each one of us is capable of being a good example, of lending a helping hand, of biting our tongue, of bringing peace and calm to a situation.  Each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God and can move past our human weaknesses if we are open to the Spirit.  Each one of us commits sin and carries his or her own cross but is worthy of forgiveness and the rise to Glory.  So no matter how badly the world is falling apart around you, smile, be kind, offer words of encouragement and love, and bring light to a world that every day seems to be more filled with darkness.

St Francis

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

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)

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.

Do you remember your childhood?  The days spent with friends, evenings spent catching fireflies, soaring on the swing set, playing flashlight tag.  What were your worries, your biggest concerns?  Whether or not you finished your homework?  What you were going to wear to school the next day?  Which book to read when this one is done? Life was one big break after another.  And then you hit high school, and the breaks were fewer in number; and then in college, your breaks came two or three times a year; and the next thing you knew, you were an adult who didn’t have time for breaks at all.

Everyone needs some down time, a deep cleansing breath, a chance to close your eyes and be in the moment, releasing the tension in your muscles, and melting into the mat.  We all need to step back, smell the roses, and enjoy the small bit of time we are given here on this earth.  Life is hard, work is never ending, we are pulled in several directions at once.  But how good does it feel when we have those rare and precious moments to let it all go?  Perhaps it’s a day at the beach, a family vacation, or even a quiet hour with a good book.  We all need a chance to relive our childhood, to recapture our youth, to come to child’s pose.

During this hectic holiday season, forget about rushing here and there and pulling your hair out trying to have the perfect Christmas. Perfection doesn’t come to us here on Earth.  The most we can do is live every day to the best of our potential and enjoy it while it lasts.  Making gifts doesn’t have to mean quilting a full-sized bedspread for everyone.  It can be baking someone her favorite cake and handing it to her on a pretty platter.  It’s okay if your tree is leaning a little or if the lights on your house are a little uneven.  It’s the joy you feel on Christmas Day and the love you share with your family and friends that matter.  Let yourself relax and have fun.  If you’re lucky enough to have snow, build a snowman!  And remember that dropping to your knees isn’t just for yoga.  It’s what we should do whenever we seek solace and rest.  It is a meaningful moment, a plea for a break or for help, a searching for peace in your mind, for grace in your soul.  When you need a break, come to child’s pose.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”  Matthew 19:14

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.

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?

During WWII, we brought in refugees from Europe, but we chose those who came. We did not open our doors to every person in Europe who wanted to flee the war. Was that right?  I don’t know.  But I do know that, on the contrary, we made sure that their homeland was safe for people to continue living secure, healthy, fulfilling lives. Those who say that was different and that we shouldn’t interfere with what’s going on in Syria or Iraq or any of the ISIS controlled countries, please tell me how is it different? How were the victims of WWII any different than those being persecuted today? Why wouldn’t we want, for our sake as well as theirs, to contain the threats in their lands and make their homeland safe for all people?  Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, just yesterday, questioned why we are bringing people here who could be fighting for their homes.  Because they have families?  So did our Pop.

And what are our leaders here and throughout the West supposed to do?  How can we help these refugees when we have those here at home who we are unwilling or unable to help – our poor, our homeless, our Veterans? We have approximately 50,000 homeless Veterans in our country. How do we look at them and say, we cannot give you food and shelter, but we can give it to people from the region where you put your very life at risk?

Pope Francis recently said that “refugees are more than statistics; they are children of God, each with his or her own inherent dignity.” My heart breaks over this, for I believe it to be true to the bottom of my soul. So where does that leave us? Where are we to find the resources to care for these people when we cannot care for our own? For it is not simply a matter of security. It is a matter of human dignity.  Does that mean that we are to take care of everyone (Whatsoever you do to the least of my people… Mat 25:45), or do we help them to help themselves (let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Eph 4:28)?  What is the right thing to do?

As far as security, our country has the strictest vetting process of any country in the world, yet our own intelligence officials have said that we can’t even come close to a guarantee that the process works. The attacks that have taken place on our own soil were, for the most part, homegrown terrorists (Boston, Oklahoma City, the first World Trade Center bombing). The perpetrators of 9/11 were here legally, so how well does the system work? Threats to our nation and our citizens can come from anywhere. Three of the Paris terrorists were French Nationals. How do we ever know if we are safe?

So again I ask, what is the answer? Where do we go from here? All sides will never agree. The only thing I know for sure is that leaders around the world need to take their heads out of the sand and recognize what the real problem is, the root of everything that is going on.  There is an ideology (again, I won’t call it a religion – this isn’t the religion of Muhammed that we are fighting), but an ideology that hates the West and is determined to spread their hate throughout the world, destroying everything its path.  Unless we strike at the root of the problem, nothing will be solved, no questions truly answers, no lives left to uphold with dignity.  Which leads me back to the question of humanity.  The questions swirl around and around in a vicious circle that truly never ends.

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.

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.

I don’t recall a whole lot about fishing with my grandfather.  We mostly crabbed, and those memories flood my mind whenever I think about my time with him.  However, I do remember how much fun we had with our rods and reels and that showing off our catch was always a big photo op!  We would lay out the fish side by side in the back yard and proudly stand next to our bounty and pose for the camera.  My mother’s photo albums contain many pictures of my dad and me posing with our row of shimmering, silver fish glistening in the sunlight.

Several years ago, my parents went out west with us to the home in Colorado that Ken and I share with several friends and family members.  Though my father wasn’t overly fond of the serpentine climbs that took us up into the Rockies, he thought that the area was one of the most beautiful places he had ever been to.  And who could argue with that?  I’ve been all around the world and have seldom seen anything more beautiful than the Alpine Loop above Lake City and Silverton, Colorado.

This particular trip took place over Father’s Day weekend, and I had planned a present for my dad that I hoped he would not only enjoy but cherish for many years to come.  Taking the whole family into Crested Butte, I announced that Ken, Mom, and the girls would spend the afternoon browsing in the shops while Dad and I took private fly fishing lessons.  Dad was so surprised!  He and I went into the guide’s shop and fitted ourselves with all of the proper gear for fly fishing and marveled at all of the flashy colors on the whimsical lures.  Never before had we fished with anything quite like those fancy flyers that were before our eyes.  We spent the next few hours with our guide learning all of the proper techniques for casting and hooking the fish that we were sure would make a hearty feast at least one night of our vacation.

Every morning and every evening for the next week, Dad and I trekked down to the Lake Fork River and stood in silence casting our lines.  What a peaceful and beautiful experience it was.  Every now and then one of us spoke, but for the most part, we enjoyed the tranquility as we cast our lines and hoped for a bite.  Alas, we never did have the trout dinner of which we all dreamed.  I don’t know if it was our technique, our timing, or our choice of location, but we were never able to hook up with a fish, excuse the pun.  We did, however, witness a stunning bobcat as it came out of the woods and slinked down to the river for a cool drink.  After a few minutes, she looked up at us with her lazy gaze and then bent back down for another sip before padding back into the trees.  Dad and I looked at each other and smiled.  No, there were no fish, but there was a story, and week of memories that neither of us will ever forget.

Never again have I passed by the Lake Fork on our way to our cabin that I haven’t smiled at the fly fishers as they cast their long lines into the rushing water.  I can still close my eyes and see the sun glinting off of the wet rocks as it filtered through the pines and aspens, the sparkling, gem-like light reflecting off of the stream, and the smile on my dad’s face as his line swished back and forth in search of a fish.  There are few times in life when we have the opportunity to just be with someone we love, not talking or watching a movie or being part of the crowd, but just being together enjoying the shared moment and each other’s company.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had any other similar experience with anyone, and I think it’s the closest thing to Heaven that I have ever felt.

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 next mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

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