Make a Difference in the World

Have you ever thought about the difference just one person can make in this world? Saint Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Let’s think about just the past few months and the things that have taken place during this time in history. Throughout time, there have been those who have stepped forward, some in very large and others in very small ways, to make a difference.

  • Over 2,000 years ago, a teenage girl simply said yes to God, thus changing the world for all eternity.
  • In 1801, John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and is still considered today one of the greatest Justices in our country’s history.
  • In 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born – talk about a man who made a difference!
  • In 1938, Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, was performed for the first time and influenced every stage production to follow.
  • In 1964, the Beatles released their first American album and changed the course of music in this country forever.
  • In 1981, President Reagan became the oldest President in US history.
  • In 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State.
  • In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President in US History.

Did any of these people believe as children that they would become who they were (or are) as adults? Take Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a preacher, not a movie star or a politician, but he has become the very face of peaceful civil rights in our Country. Though some of these people were men and some women, some were born into prestigious families and some came from the poorest of homes, all of them have something in common. Whether they knew it or not, they all led their lives according to the teaching of Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, takes a centuries old teaching and brings it to life – every little thing you do, every choice you make, affects another person. I have been a mother for over 21 years, a Girl Scout Leader for 14 years, a camp director for 11 years, and a novelist for the past several years. I like to think that I have been able to touch the lives of hundreds of people in some way through one of these channels. Every summer, I see the affect that my wonderful camp staff has on the over 100 girls with whom we work. I have watched my own mother touch the lives of people she probably doesn’t even realize she has influenced, and believe me, there are many, perhaps thousands, who are the people they are today because she came into their lives in some way.

Last week, Morgan and Katie spent the week helping repair houses in Harlan, Kentucky. It was a very moving experience for them. They both came home changed people. So many times theoughout the week, they were thanked, prayed for and with, and told that their group was truly making a difference in the lives of the people they met and helped. While that’s a large endeavor, little things can be done every day to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes, just a smile is enough to change one’s outlook or reroute the course of their day.

How are you making a difference in the world? It doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture; it can be just a stone cast across the waters that causes a ripple. Every one of us has the ability to influence countless people each and every day. What is the mark you are leaving on those around you? In some way, it just may be the mark you are leaving on the world. Make it count.


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’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.
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.

Nine Reasons Why Saying Yes is Not a Weakness

13680532_1624096637883343_9030708877592774291_nCall it what you may, but saying yes, giving of my time and talents, taking on too many tasks, is not a weakness. I’ve had this argument more than once with family and friends, and each time, I leave the conversation thinking that I was not successful in getting across why I continue to say yes. No, I don’t have an irrational desire to please nor am I insecure and unable to stand up for myself. I have a deep-in-my-soul belief that I was meant to serve. There are those who, I know, think I’m crazy. Sometimes, even I think that. But then there are the times that reaffirm my calling in resonating tones.

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading ended with the line, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” Our priest told us that each of us is called to do service here on Earth. He said that we are not meant to spend our lives being waited on or watching others do work. We are meant to pitch in, do our share, and contribute to society whenever and however we are needed. Everything that I have ever believed about serving others was summed up so loudly and clearly that I wanted to turn to everyone around me and shout, “See, I’m only doing what I was meant to be doing.”

While others may benefit from my service, I know that, ultimately, I am the one who is achieving the greatest reward. Here are my reasons for believing this and what I have learned in the process:

  1.  Discovering Strengths: I am a master at organization. Give me an event, and I can plan it down to the smallest details. I can find the right people, give the right directions, and orchestrate the affair without letting any complication, large or small, dictate its success. But there are things I am not good at, and that’s okay. I have discovered what I can do and what I cannot. I consider that a gift and a blessing.
  2. Admitting Weaknesses: I do know when to quit, when to say no. In fact, I said no last week. I was asked to be part of a capital campaign and solicit money for a good cause. For a very good cause. For a cause near and dear to my heart. But I’ve been there and done that. And I learned that I am not good in that role. I am not comfortable in that role, but I know that there are others who are. There are others who are called to do that, Just as there are others who are called to direct plays, do bookkeeping, and maintain gardens. All things that I’ve been asked to do at one time or another and either knew or learned the hard way that they are beyond my capabilities.
  3. Joy is a Beautiful Thing: Whether it is planning a week-long summer camp or an all-night after prom party, I delight in seeing everything come together in a way that brings happiness and joy to the participants. Seeing their faces, hearing their stories, and watching them have fun, makes all of the hard work and countless hours more than worth it.
  4. My soul is satisfied: Few things in life feel better than the success or accomplishment of great tasks. It’s not about self-aggrandizement. It’s about self-discovery, self-growth, and self-satisfaction. It wouldn’t matter to me if no other person in the world knew that I was behind an event. I know it, and it feels good to see something I’ve worked on go the way that I hoped and prayed it would.
  5. But it’s not about what I have to offer: It’s about what we can accomplish together. It’s about bringing together a group of individuals and helping each of them to find their strengths, encouraging them to use their talents, and inspiring in them and others the passion to serve. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”15NNY1_0771-001
  6. My children are learning to lead: They are not learning to be pushovers but to plan, to accept their strengths and their shortcomings, and to serve others. I once had someone say to me that I was doing my children a disservice because they would grow up to be women who couldn’t say no, who took on too many tasks. At first, I worried about this, but then I watched my children come to their own realizations about what they can do and how much they can handle. They understand what it means to stay committed to something, what it takes to lead, and when it’s necessary to back down or say no.img_2705
  7. There is no obstacle too large to overcome: Often, we hear about mountains being in the way of success. We can climb over them, go around them, tunnel through them, or turn around and go back the way we came. I am a big believer in finding those ways to get to the other side of the mountain. If there’s a will, there’s a way, right? It’s often my mantra, and I’ve never found it to be untrue. The acclaimed surgeon, Ben Carson, wrote in his book, Gifted Hands, “Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.” How true that is.
  8. My yoke may be heavy, but my burden is light: This is the one thing that others never understand. Yes, committing to several large endeavors while maintaining a home and career is daunting, but it’s not tiring. I am busy, but I am not overwhelmed. I keep my eye on the finish line, jumping over hurdles, sometimes sloshing through puddles, but holding steady to my pace. Most of all, I don’t worry or stress or let fears or uncertainties overcome me. I know that I am not doing all of the things I take on for myself. I am doing them for the greater good. And that’s what matters because I know that God will not let me fail. He will not let me falter. He will hold me up, guide me on the trail, and lead me to victory, not mine, but His, for the glory is His. Because…
  9. I am the handmaid of the Lord: I am here to serve. I am here to do His will. I will continue to listen to that inner voice that says, “No, this is not the right time” or “This is not the right job,” or “Yes, you can handle this. I will be by your side.”

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)

Update on 150 Reasons to Go

DSC_7071.JPGI wrote the following blog almost two years ago.  Nothing has changed about the way I feel, but my life continues to be enhanced and made better by the girls and adults that I know through my role as a camp director.  Here are my thoughts on the “job” and an update from this year’s camp.

I hate driving in Baltimore.  Please don’t take offense. It’s not the city itself.  It’s the multitude of one-way streets.  Even when relying on my GPS, I always seem to get twisted around no matter where I’m going.  Give me DC any day with its wagon wheel street design, every spoke emanating out from the beautiful white dome of the Capitol with states going in one direction and letters in the other.  Now that’s a city in which I can find my way around.  Even if I get lost, I know I’m never truly lost and can easily find the way out.  I have a very hard time finding one good reason to drive in Baltimore.  However, tomorrow, I will find 150 reasons.

Tomorrow I will attend the State of Maryland Camp Director’s Training.  Though I’ve been a camp director for nine years now, I have never made it downtown for the training.  This year, however, there are several crucial changes in the healthcare laws, so I must make the trek into the city to learn how to properly construct the necessary forms.  So for the benefit of the one-hundred girls and the fifty staff members that attend Summer Roundup, I will boldly take on the streets of Charm City.

If you have never attended an overnight summer camp or have never volunteered for one, you couldn’t possibly understand the lengths to which I would go for the group of people I consider my second family.  My own daughters and I have been attending Roundup for twelve years now.  My girls have all three progressed from first year campers as Brownies or Daisies to know-it-all Cadettes to Teen Camp Aides, and for the second year in a row, one Adult Staff.  I have watched them go from knowing nothing about camping or rowing or shooting an arrow to teaching younger girls how to pitch a tent, paddle a kayak, or hit a bullseye.  I have seen girls cry their eyes out for four nights straight, and then a few years later, console and tuck into bed a new camper pining for home.  I have staff members who were once Roundup campers themselves and are now attending with their own daughters.

There is something so special about an all-volunteer camp that it’s hard to put it into words. I’m sure that high-priced, fancy summer camps with fully paid staff and college kids making enough money to buy a car are a lot of fun.  But nothing can compare to the heart and soul that is put into a camp by people who are there for no other reason than they love the camp.  There is a feeling that each person, camper and adult alike, takes home from camp that never leaves them.  It is that feeling that leaves all of us counting down until the next year when we will see each other again.

I highly encourage everyone to send your child to an all-volunteer camp.  Don’t do it because they are by far the least expensive camps.  Don’t do it because it’s a way to keep the kids busy for one week of the summer or to get them out of your hair.  Don’t even do it because their friends are going to camp.  Do it because it will be a week they will never forget, a week without phones or television or video games, a week of learning about nature and survival, and a week of learning about themselves.  But before you send them, I ask you to think about this, what are you doing for that week?  It’s just one week.  You’ll survive.  You might even learn something about yourself.  So go ahead, fill out that form for your child, and while you’re at it, fill out one for yourself.  It will be an experience you will never forget and will never regret.

** Update – this year, we have 163 people at camp with plans to possibly admit up to twelve more girls next year.  We’re also going to add an additional night and morning!  This excites me to no end!  Just before sitting down to write this, I visited the “Little Camper Annie” Theater program where Brownie Girl Scouts were performing their own version of life at Summer Roundup – Annie style, as well as the Dr. Seuss program where Daises were creating hot air balloon photo holders while wearing Thing 1 through Thing 9 t-shirts.  They presented me my very own Cat in the Hat chair, decorated and signed by each girl.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Some people spend the hottest days of the summer playing by the pool or heading to the beach. For me, the hottest days of the summer always have me trying to keep over one hundred girls and their counselors hydrated, cool, and having fun. You can take the pool. I’d rather take a walk to the lake to watch a group of girls swimming, kayaking, and playing water volleyball while laughing and smiling the entire time.  There’s no other way I’d want to enjoy my summer.

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)

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S’More Fun To Be Had

DSC01385For a country where all are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we sure do have to put up with a plethora of rules and regulations.  In my ten years as a camp director, I’ve seen the regulations regarding overnight camps skyrocket.  This year I will have 100 girls and 60 staff members at camp all week.  Think about that – a 6 to 10 ratio!  Why?  There is now a requirement that I give a two-hour break to all staff members every day.  I know, I know, that sounds reasonable enough; but this is an all-volunteer camp.  These adults have volunteered their time 24 hours a day (because incidents at camp don’t stop when the lights go out), and they expect to be busy running programs, watching on the beachfront, helping with crafts, going on hikes, etc. None of us expects to sit lazily under a tree or take a nap in our cabins for two hours.  And mealtimes and recreational time don’t count as breaks.  I’m turning away girls because I have to house staff in order to satisfy this rule.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our volunteers, but I’d love to welcome more girls to the joys of camp.

And paperwork!  You wouldn’t believe the amount of paperwork that has to be done to become a volunteer.  In addition to a lengthy application and three references who submit very detailed analyses of each volunteer, everyone has to do a background check through our Girl Scout Council, a state and federal fingerprint check, and a child protective services background check.  The theory is that one will catch what another misses.  Add to all of that the number of trainings required in order to run any type of program, and I’m surprised the volunteers don’t go running in the other direction.

Believe me, I know that our top priority is the safety of the girls, and I’m all for that.  But as Director, all of this paperwork is killing me.  Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned all of the medical information we are required to obtain, each piece carefully documented and signed by a physician.  Something tells me that Lord Baden Powell and Juliette Gordon Lowe would have given up before they even got started if they were trying to take children camping today.

Let’s hope that all of the state, national, and Council requirements don’t steer others from stepping up as camp directors and volunteers. Imagine all of this plus the time and effort put into just the administration and operation of the camp itself – planning programs, unit and cabin assignments, scheduling all events for the week without conflicts, meal planning, evening activities, and much, much more. It’s a grueling and full-time job at times, and I often wonder why I continue doing it.

Then the most amazing thing happens.  The time for camp arrives, and I see, often for the first time in a year, the wonderful volunteers I have come to love.  After spending 24 hours unpacking, cleaning, organizing, and setting up for camp, we greet the campers, smiling, happy girls from ages six to thirteen.  We work hard all week, but we have fun, too.  From the first night scavenger hunt to the closing ceremony, the smiles and laughs far outweigh the frustrations.  There is nothing else I would rather be doing each summer than spending it with this group.  We are family, and as we all know, family stays together through good and bad, thick and thin, sun and rain (but, please, no rain)!  So as the time grows near, and the first day of camp quickly approaches, I say let’s have s’more fun!

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