Wonder Women

IMG_4576I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of spending the better part of this summer with many amazing women. It started with my trip to Europe, with my daughter, Katie, to celebrate her high school graduation. On that trip, I had the privilege of seeing my daughter, the adult. I was awed by her, as I usually am by each of my daughters, and I reveled in the two and a half weeks that we shared together. While she still has some growing up to do, as all kids do when they leave for college, I saw many glimpses of the woman she is becoming. I look forward to seeing all that life has in store for her.

Staff 2017.JPGIn July, the girls and I returned to our favorite summer event – a week of Girl Scout camp. While there are two men who volunteer, the camp is primarily run by women, and what a great group of women they are. Ranging from high school freshmen to women in their sixties, they are students, attorneys, teachers, nurses, a CNN camerawoman, business owners, troop leaders, and a host of other professions. They are all, young and old, women to look up to, if for no other reason than that they tirelessly give an entire week of their lives, every year, to ensure the happiness of 100 little girls. But that’s not the only reason. They are women who inspire and encourage other women, and that’s so vitally important in a world where so many women are determined to continuously put others down.

IMG_7045.JPGA week after camp ended, I found myself on a plane to Austin, Texas, to join 300 other Catholic women for a weekend of spirituality and fun. Joining me in Austin were thirteen of the women I met on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land almost two years ago. For some of us, this was a second or third reunion. For many, it was the first time we’d seen each other since February of 2016. There were tears, prayers, and laughter, much laughter. Each of these women has struggled with something – past regrets, infertility, divorce, health issues, rocky marriages, job loss, the death of a child, ailing and infirmed parents, or some other type of hardship. Each has her own cross to bear, and bear it she does, with dignity, grace, and beauty that cannot be measured by the human eye. Each loves without judgement, acts without selfishness, and relies on her faith to see her through the toughest of times. I look at these women and am overwhelmed by them, by all that they’ve done, by all that they have to give, and by their strength and determination. At one point, one of the women said to me, “When I grow up, I want to be you.” Those words will never leave me because I just want to be like all of them.

IMG_7159.JPGThis week, I got to spend time with the women who matter the most in my life – my three girls. Along with us on our family vacation, is Rebecca’s life-long best friend, Bailey. It has been such a pleasure to spend time with them. Yesterday, we started the day by hiking Bushkill Falls. There were no easy trails for this crew. We knew that the harder and rockier the trail, the better the view, so onward and upward we went. The girls laughed at the warnings that the trails we had chosen would be strenuous, and even Bailey, not a fan of heights, tackled the mountain with grace and ease. It was another glimpse of the women they are and will be, and I marveled at the young ladies we had raised. Picture-cbkma-20170808-0015953In the afternoon, Morgan, her boyfriend, Katie, and I took on a five-level treetop adventure course. With each level, the challenges grew harder and higher. After the first three, Jacob decided he had spent enough time high above the ground (you’ve to hand it to a boy who is deathly afraid of heights but willingly takes on such a challenge). Katie, not one to give up, wanted to continue on to courses four and five, courses on which few people are willing to continue. In fact, she and I were the only females, in our group of two dozen or so people, to move on AND CONQUER the courses, and two of the small handful of women who even attempted the courses that day. As we were leaving, the men were offering us congratulations and compliments, and a woman waiting at the end,  high-fived us, telling us that a man ahead of us had called us the Warrior Women. 

But here’s the truth about all of this. I would never have taken Rebecca and then Katie to Europe after their graduations had Rebecca not encouraged me to do so. She was confident that the two of us could manage ten cities and seven countries in three weeks, and we did. That led to Katie’s trip in which we visited nine cities in three countries in just over two weeks with skill and ease. Their confidence in me in humbling. Their confidence in themselves in awe-inspiring. Likewise, I would never have taken on the job of camp director if another woman hadn’t been so positive that I was up to the task. She encouraged me to take the reins and has continued to support and encourage me for the past eleven years. IMG_7058.JPGI would never have formed the bond that I have formed with my sisters in faith from all across the country if they hadn’t been so open and trusting with each other, so supportive, and such faith-filled, persevering women. There is no judgement there, no attempts to be better than anyone, no snarkiness or cutting each other down. There is just pure love and the understanding that each of us is here just trying to do the best we can in a world that is a never-ending challenge. Much like my day with my family yesterday in which each thing we did was harder than the thing before it. Each level was rockier, higher, more challenging, but we encouraged each other to push on. 

IMG_9935We all have the ability to be Wonder Women, to fight for justice, for truth, for peace, and for love. We all have the ability to encourage one another, to see each other for what we have to give and not for what we lack, to be there for each other in the good times and the bad, to inspire others to have faith in themselves, each other, and God. I learned all of that from the ultimate Wonder Woman, my mom. She is my inspiration, my ideal, that to which I aspire. I am who I am, and my girls are who they are because of her. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you. May we all be blessed with a Wonder Woman, or a group of Wonder Women, in our lives.

 

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Proverbs 31:25-31

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Off the Grid.

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/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)

My Best Friend

1016935_10152444890701349_6188218071191815940_nI consider myself an extremely lucky person.  I have a wonderful husband, Ken, to whom I can talk about anything.  I have a remarkable group of women on whom I can count without question – Debbie, Anne, Ann, Julie, Linda, Angie, Alix, Kimberly, Trissy, Judy, and my sister-in-law, Lisa.  As my daughters grow and mature, we are developing that wonderful kind of friendship that I know will keep us close forever.  But above all of this, I am so lucky that my best friend truly is my mother.

From the time I was a little girl, my mother and I had a special kind of relationship.  Maybe it’s because I was the only girl, and we banded together amid the high level of testosterone in our home.  Maybe it’s because my mother, grandmother, aunt, and I were all just very close.  Mom’s friends always said I was very mature and treated me like one of the gals, so maybe that part of it.  Whatever the reason, I have always seen my mother as both my mother and my friend.

This was especially so after I got married.  Moving two hours from home and living in an area where I had no relatives and no friends was very hard on me.  It was the winter of 1993-1994 when the entire Eastern Shore was covered with ice and snow and all normal life came to a screeching halt.  Ken was stuck in Annapolis and unable to get home for almost a week.  I was in our new home with our new puppy, and I was miserable.  It was my mother who talked me off of the ledge, so to speak.  I don’t know how many long-distance fees we racked up that month, but Ken never complained.  Even he could see that Mom is my lifeline – the person who keeps me holding on and inspires me.  When Rebecca was born, my mother spent two weeks with me helping me get settled.  I don’t know what I would have done without her.  I firmly believe that is why Mom and Rebecca have such a strong bond today.  Actually the same can be said for all of my girls – Mom was there when they came into the world and was there for their first two weeks of life, and she’s still there for them today.

Over the years, Mom and I have always tried to spend some special time together.  We’ve taken trips with just the two of us to Williamsburg, Lancaster, Asheville, Niagara, and other places where we could just relax and have fun together.  Now that Mom works as my assistant, we have even more reason to travel together.  This past weekend, we drove from Maryland to Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival.  It was a great weekend where we met other authors, sold my books, and gained more knowledge about promoting my craft.  But the best parts of the trip were the times we spent just talking.  There’s a lot of road between St. Michaels and Atlanta, but we never found ourselves with a lack of conversation.  Whether we were talking politics, religion, family matters, or pop culture nonsense, we enjoyed every minute that we were together.

Someday I hope that I can have the same type of relationship with my own daughters.  They already know that they can come to me with anything, and they usually do.  Sometimes they preface what they have to say with something like “I need to talk to you as a Mom,” or “I need advice from a friend.”  I like to think that they have watched my mother and me over the years and understand how someone can be both a mother and friend.  I hope that I can be whatever they need me to be for them.  I don’t think I will have a problem.  I’ve had a great teacher.

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 newest 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.

Blessed With Mothers

I have been so very blessed in my life when it comes to mothers.  I have the best mother any girl could ever want.  When I was growing up, I knew that my mother was an authority who needed to be respected and obeyed, but I also knew that she was my friend.  From an early6893 age, my mother included me on her girls only weekends and day trips with the ladies.  I suppose it was because it was just the two of us in a house full of men, but I always looked at it as our time as friends and not as mother and daughter.  I called Mom’s friends by name, and they treated me like one of them.  In my teen years,I knew that I could talk to my mother about everything and that somehow she would understand.  As a wife and mother, my Mom is my rock, my go-to, my wise sage.  I don’t know how I could have gotten this far in life without her.

Add into the mix my wonderful aunts who have always treated me more like a sister than a niece.  I still remember going to DSC08911work with Aunt Pinky on Take Your Daughter To Work Day when I was very little.  And I’ll never forget the road trip to the Pennsylvania outlets with Aunt Debbie when I was about 13.  On those rare occasions when I needed advice from someone other than my mother, Aunt Debbie was my confidant.  Even when she told me things I didn’t want to hear, I valued her opinion and still do.  When I was younger, I always knew that if, heaven forbid, something happened to my own mother, I had wonderful aunts who would be the mothers I needed.

Mike and Ashley's wedding5 (21)-001Of course, I know that all of those women are the amazing mothers, friends, and women they are because of my most beloved and cherished grandmother.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.  She was everything a woman should be.  She was kind, nurturing, smart, courageous, and spent most of her life taking care of others.  I was so blessed to have her in my life for 37 years and for my children to have known her.  I still say that when I grow up, I want to be just like Gram.

IMG_0052_6_1You would think that I was blessed enough to have my sainted mother, my heroic grandmother, and my remarkable aunts, but no, God continued to bless me with a wonderful Godmother who has always loved me like I am her own daughter.  Though we don’t see each other often, I know that she is always there for me, and I can’t wait to see her this summer.  And I am further blessed with a mother-in-law upon whom I can always count.  We’ve all heard horror stories, and I DSC00228know  some people who have lived them, about dealing with mothers-in-law.  Well, let me assure you, the reason everyone else complains  about theirs is because I got the best one out there.  I know she is always there for me, and I hope she knows I am there for her as well.

So this Sunday, as you honor your mother, I will honor my mother and all of the women in my life who made me the person I am today.  Happy Mother’s Day to you all.  I love you.

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.

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