The Gift of Time

We are now into the second full week of the stay at home, self-containment policy requested by the federal government. It’s been challenging at times, but there has been a lot of good that has come out of it.

I’m reminded on a daily basis that life doesn’t always go according to one’s plan. Things are consistently changed, rearranged, sidelined, or reimagined. Goals are shifted, and priorities are reconsidered. Life is a giant balancing act, sometimes performed on a tightrope, often without a net. How we maintain our balance, meet the challenges, and adjust our way of life and our attitude can and will make all the difference. This time presents us with the beautiful opportunity to see things in a different way. It is, perhaps, the gift that the world so desperately needs.

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Slipping Sand into Precious Pearls

There is a thief on the loose, one so elusive I am unable to catch him. He is quite versatile, able to take on any shape and size, whatever needs to be done in order to snatch, steel, and plunder.  Stealthily, he intrudes on my daily life, pilfering that which seems to be the most precious of commodities. 

Sometimes he comes in the form of a crisis. Large or small, it doesn’t matter, for any crisis results in same thing. The housework does not get done. The laundry sits in piles. The characters in my book stand by, unable to go forward, wondering if I will ever return to guide them. I am stranded on the shore at sunset, searching for an extra hour, knowing the ship has sailed.

Sometimes, the thief comes in the form of technology. That very thing which is meant to prevent the crime is often the catalyst that allows the thief to enter. He may come as a broken link, a spinning ball, or a scrolling page. Often, he is a frozen screen on which the only thing that moves is the clock in the top corner, mocking me as the minutes slip away before my very eyes. I reach to catch them and hold onto them, but they vanish, never to return.

Other times, the thief comes in the form of a call or a visit from a friend or loved one. It is at those times that I feel him taunting me, saying, “Isn’t this what you wanted? I’m giving you what you’ve asked for. Enjoy it.” But in my the recesses of my mind, I’m still complaining, still mounting charges, “Yes, this is what I wanted, but why now? Why can’t it happen when I can afford to enjoy it? Why do you send this person to interrupt my day instead of at a better time?” But that time never comes. One thing the thief knows for sure, we can never create perfect timing, and we must accept some interruptions as gifts and some interlopers as valued friends.

Why do I always feel like I am racing him, trying to lure him into a trap? Where is he hiding my precious moments? How do I get them back? I am so busy trying to hold onto the ticking clock that I blink, and the holidays are upon us. I close my eyes, and the school year is coming to a close. I turn around, and my girls are grown and gone.

Those stolen moments make me I realize that I am the one who has been caught in the trap. I am the one who has allowed the thief to enter, emboldened by my own willingness to let him to take those minutes, those hours, those days in return for the few seconds of happiness I am willing to accept and enjoy. I am the one who has turned my life into a race along the shore, where the water weighs down my feet as they try to make progress and the waves mock my futile steps.

I must find a way to work with the thief of time. I must make more room in my calendar for the minutes that matter. There must be a way to accept the crises and the glitches, as well as the unexpected pleasures, and make them work together to slow the sand in the hourglass. For one day, without my permission or knowledge, the thief will have taken the last granule of sand, and I will be left to wonder if I used those grains to build castles with open drawbridges or walls and moats. Perhaps the thief is there to remind me that time, like all gems, is rare, precious, and to be handled with care. I am the one who needs to find a way to turn lost moments from slipping sand into precious pearls.

Psamls 39-4-5 Sunset.jpg

What I was writing about a year ago this week: There are no Strangers Here.

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).

A Little Time to Spare

Yesterday, I was out running errands while Morgan was at field hockey practice. I just got a new car, and I wanted to organize the storage space in the front seat, so I ran to my favorite home organization store – the Dollar Tree. If you’ve never done home organization shopping at the Dollar Tree, then you are missing out. Every room of my house has the perfect containers, all purchased for a dollar each! Anyway, I was standing in the back of the store, weighing my options and trying to decide what would work best, when an older man stopped nearby to look at something.

“Hmm, sugar free chocolate. I wonder if it’s any good,” he said to himself.

Glancing over, I saw the display of Baker’s Chocolate that had caught his attention. I winced.

“Only for baking,” I told him. “You definitely do not want to eat it. It’s very bitter.”

He looked at the box for a moment, and then I saw understanding dawn. 

“I guess the name should have given that away. I’m diabetic, and the words ‘no sugar’ jumped out at me. I sure miss eating chocolate.”

Before I knew it, this man launched into a story about his younger sister who had eaten a whole box of ExLax as a child. It was much more information than I needed to know about this stranger and his family, but I smiled and listened. When he finished his story, I nodded, picked up the plastic containers I’d been eyeing, and began to turn away. But I didn’t get far. 

“I have three kids,” this man proceeded to tell me. Before I could say that I, too, have three children, or rather, before I could escape and run down the aisle, he began telling me about his children and his grandchildren. Twenty minutes and several stories later, I smiled, told him I enjoyed talking to him, and wished him a nice day. The entire time he talked, my mind was screaming, “Don’t you get that I have things to do?” But my heart was saying, this man needs to talk.

Perhaps his wife has a medical issue and can’t hold a conversation with him. Perhaps he recently retired and is at loose ends in his life. Perhaps he is just so filled with joy at this stage of his life that he wants the world to know it. Whatever the reason, he chose me to spend close to a half hour regaling with stories. In the end, I paid for my stuff, ran to the grocery store, and still had time to sit in the school parking lot and organize my car. What could have been seen as lost time in my otherwise very busy day, ended up being just a few minutes that I had to spare.

It’s crazy how busy we all are. My days seem to roll by at a constant speed with little time to take a break. If you had told me yesterday morning that I’d spend part of my day listening to a stranger tell me how he feels when his grandson lays his head on his lap and looks up and says, “Grandpa, I love you,” I would have told you no way, I had no time for that. But, as it turned out, I had plenty of time. In fact, I had more than enough time. It’s amazing how sometimes, when we’re open to it, God allows us to make time for little things like listening to a stranger. And that makes me wonder.

If I had been on my phone, if I was one of those people who walks around with earbuds in my ears all day, or if I had simply ignored this man’s comment to himself about the chocolate, the conversation never would have taken place. Would my day have changed? Not at all. But would his? I’ll never know. But God does. He knew that I was meant to be there at that time. He knew that this man needed someone to listen. He knew that my day would turn out just fine if I spared a few minutes for a stranger. He knew that I’d still be thinking about it today. Maybe that man is still thinking about it, too. And maybe it was just what he needed.

Rick Warren

What I was writing about one year ago this week: America, Our Ship is Sinking.

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, 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 on pre-sale. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is on pre-sale and will be released on December 1, 2017.

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)

How Do You Measure A Year?

DSC08677.JPGOne year ago this week, Ken and I received the news that we were chosen to go to the Holy Land with a group of pilgrims.  As excited as we were, we had no idea how life changing that trip would be.  To see the places about which we’ve only read or heard, to walk in the footsteps of our Lord, to stand on the shores of the Jordan River and inside the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher were things that we never imagined being able to do.  To top it all off, we made new friends, some of whom have become among the closest friends we have.  It’s amazing to me, when I look back over the course of this past year, that one year ago, I had never been to Mount Tabor.  I had never looked down at the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.  I didn’t know George or Tammi or either Anne.  I had never met Bianca or Mary Ann or either Michelle.  How different my life was just a year ago.  And that got me thinking…

How different are all of our lives from just a year ago?  In the past twelve months, I’ve attended graduations, weddings, christenings, and funerals.  I’ve seen my girls go from being just “in high school and college” to being Seniors about to graduate and move on.  I’ve traveled to new places and returned to old favorites.  In June, I published my third novel, and within a few weeks, I will be publishing another. 

As the song asks, “how do you measure a year?”  Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days.  That’s how we think about a year: a long, drawn out collection of days.  But 365 is a small number that is gone in the blink of an eye.  It sounds like a lot – five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.  But in less than a year, a baby is conceived and then born, a wedding is planned, a school year is completed and another started, a fine wine ages, a house is built and occupied.  And we look back and say, “where did the year go?”  How does time get away from us so easily?

So as you begin to think about your New Year’s Resolutions, think about the past as well.  Think about all that you did in the past year, the people you met, the places you visited, the things you accomplished.  And think about the minutes that got away from you, the tasks left unfinished, the goals left unmet.  Don’t think of the future as long and drawn out.  Think of it as short and fleeting.  Make the most of every day, every minute.  There’s much to be seen in the world, many new people to meet, and a lot to be accomplished.  And the reality is, there is never enough time in which to do it.  But there is enough time to enjoy life.  I urge you to start today.

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 inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her most recent book, Whispering Vines, is available for purchase; and her next novel, Island of Miracles, will be released in January of 2017.

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)

Celebrate and Aspire

DSC00647I’m sitting here this morning drinking my tea in the silence before the girls wake up, and I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve.  Twelve hours from now, I’ll be hiding in my bedroom with Jodi Piccoult while twenty teenage girls sit here in this kitchen eating ice cream sundaes and talking about boys.  When did my baby get so old?  How did time go by so quickly?  Rebecca is already a sophomore in college, but it feels like she graduated yesterday and was just born the day before that.  Time marches on so fast, we hardly have a chance to take it all in.

This morning, I watched the year in review on the news, and I was amazed to think that all of those things happened this past year.  From three missing airliners to the rise of ISIS to the loss of the great Lauren Bacall and Mickey Rooney.  Less than a year ago, we were talking about polar vortexes, and this past summer, we witnessed a string of devastating tornadoes and wildfires.  Yet here we are; life zooms by, and we hardly notice.  We lose loved ones, and we go on; we see beheadings and mass kidnappings, yet we procreate and celebrate the joys in life.  People are an amazing creation – resilient and motivated despite all that we face and witness in life.

Tomorrow starts a new year, a year that will see more heartbreak but also more joy.  We will say goodbye to some and welcome others to our families and to our world.  We will discover new hopes, aspire to new heights, and reach for higher stars all with the knowledge that anything is possible in spite of the hard times and tears.  May you all remember those who have fallen, pray for those who protect us, forge new paths, and dream bigger dreams.  May you look back a year from now and wonder “How did I do all of that?” and know that there is still time to do more.  And amidst all of the chaos, may you find time to just be.  May you make 2015 the best year yet, knowing that it is only through pain that we know true joy and remembering that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  Happy New Year!

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home 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. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

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