Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Waiting for Wonder Fun Christmas GIVEAWAY!!

Hi Friends!

Couldn't wait (pun intended!! :-)) to tell you about the fun new giveaway my publicist is doing for Christmas for my new book Waiting for Wonder.

Sign-up HERE to enter! Click HERE and then click on the picture to get to the entry form. The giveaway is for a really great watch plus two copies of my new book. Can't beat that! And the giveaway is running until December 23. The winner will be posted here on my blog on December 27th.

So, sign up now! And in the meantime, here is an excerpt from fictional section of chapter 1. These fictional sections, meant to bring to life the story of Sarah, Abraham's wife, are one of the unique qualities of this book that explores Sarah's story to help us find the wonder of waiting in our own lives.

Read on...

EXCERPT (from Sarah's point of view):

I never dreamed my shame would define me. I never imagined I would be known for the very thing that causes me the deepest pain.
            Everyone I know has children. Everyone but me. Decades have passed. Hope has turned to a bitter herb in my mouth. Dust stirs around me as I make my way to the marketplace of Ur. They know me here, know that I am barren, childless. And they whisper.
            Today, as always, the marketplace buzzes with the sounds of children’s laughter, the murmuring gossip of women, the shouts of merchants. And beyond that, I hear the footfalls of worshippers traveling to the great ziggurat, the temple tower, just built by king Ur-Namma. Its bricks rise over the city, calling us to the worship of Nanna, the moon god. Calling me to come and beg favor from a god of fertility.
            I do not listen.
            I will not go.
            Instead, I pause beside a cloth-maker’s booth. I block out the sounds of the children, the mothers, and the silent beckoning from the temple of Ur. I stare at the bolts of cloth. A deep red, a tired yellow, a pale blue. My fingers barely brush the rough weave. The blue cloth would make a good garment for travel.
            Travel? Why do I think of these things? Perhaps because the walls of the city seem to press in on me today, the dust, the noise, the thousand voices, the footsteps, and the temple. Mostly the temple. And the children. And the whispers that always follow me.
            The pitying glances.
            The cruel conjectures.
            The snide advice that always involves a trip to a tower of bricks, timed with the moon’s transformations.
            Barren Sarai. Childless Sarai. The one whom the gods hate.
            Shame. Guilt. Pain.
            Hopelessness. Helplessness. Despair.
            I choose the bolt of blue cloth. My fingers fumble as I pay. Blue cloth. For travel. But where would I ever go?
            I hear my name, spoken gently. I hear it despite the bustle of the city all around me.
            I turn. He is there, my Abram, standing behind me. He has come from tending his sheep. It is too early for him to come in.
            He moves closer, his hand touching my arm. “Follow me, we must speak.” He takes the cloth from me and my hand flutters to my belly, flat as always.
            The noises fade as we walk out from the shadow of the great temple. We walk toward home. Then my Abram speaks.
            Elohim has spoken to me. God, our Creator, has come to me.”
            “You saw him?”
            “No one sees him, and lives. But he spoke to me all the same.” Abram’s voice catches, lowers. “He made us a promise. An impossible promise.”
            My hand drops to my belly again.
            Abram pauses, swallows, and I see the wonder in his eyes. “He has told me to leave here, go from our father’s house, to a land he will show me.”
            “Leave?” A blue cloth, just right for a garment for travel. . . .
            “And, and . . . He has promised to make me into a great nation.”
            My hand falls. My heart constricts. What kind of promise is this? I am barren. Decades barren. Who is this God who promises a nation? Who is this Elohim who makes promises in the place of my deepest pain?
            “Listen, Sarai. He says we are chosen, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through us.”
            Us? How could it be us? I tremble and straighten my shoulders. I fight to hide my tears.
            But he sees them anyway.

            And there, with the cries of children playing in the distance, with the soft tread of feet toward a temple to the city’s god, with a blue cloth for travel, I weep and wonder.
            Does this God of promise see me after all? Does he know who I am?
            I draw a long breath. “When?”
            “I don’t know. He said only what I’ve told you already. But this I know.My husband’s eyes search mine. “The promise is for us, Sarai. Elohim, God himself, will accomplish it.”
            I press my lips tight shut. Isn’t it already too late? This Elohim could have promised wealth, power, beauty, long life. But instead he promises to remove my shame.
            What kind of crazy, impossible promise is this? No one calls a barren woman to birth a great nation. No one chooses the childless to bless the whole world through their seed. No one but Abram's God would do such a thing.

            No one but Elohim would dare.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Secret About Waiting

Hi Friends,

This week, as I continue to talk to people all over the country about the Wonder of Waiting, I also wanted to share with you the biggest surprise I discovered while walking through the life of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

Here is it:

The true purpose of waiting has surprised me the most. I had assumed that God makes us wait to refine us, to help us trust him, to grow us. I thought if I just learned my lessons faster, if I just submitted quicker to whatever it was God was trying to teach me, the waiting would end. But here’s the shocker when you walk with Sarah: You discover the real purpose of waiting isn't to fix you, it's to birth laughter, to embrace joy.

Can you imagine that? We writhe with impatience and frustration and the pain of waiting, but the purpose isn’t punishment at all. It's not even just a lesson in perseverance. The true purpose of the long wait is to produce joy! Real, true, lasting joy in you and in me!

And that’s what blesses the whole world.

For me, that’s changed everything.  Waiting is not the monster it pretends to be. Sarah’s journey has revealed the secret that waiting hides. Like a tumbler that polishes stone, waiting is supposed to produce beauty. It is the vehicle for the wonder of God. Where I expected to find an enemy, I found a friend. Waiting has become an unexpected friend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tips for Waiting Well

Hi Friends,

Well, it's radio interview season for my new book, Waiting for Wonder. So, lots of thinking and talking about what it means to wait well especially in our do-do-do culture.

So, in hopes of encouraging you in your own times of waiting, here are a few interview questions and answers that I'll be sharing over the radio:

Q: Why do you think we need to learn to wait at all? Isn’t it better to just do something instead?

A:        Oh, I wish! But as I learned through the life of Sarah, Abraham’s wife in Genesis, it’s a long journey to the promised land! When God calls us, we don’t instantaneously arrive. Which is probably why there are so many verses in the Bible about waiting. James tells us, “You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, (5:8), and Psalm 31:24 says, “All you who wait for the Lord,
be strong and let your heart take courage.” And of course Lamentations tells us, “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (3:25-26)

So, God tells us to wait well. Yet, when we’re waiting for an opportunity, a change, a relationship to be restored, a diagnosis, a call, good news, bad news, I-don’t-know-what’s coming news, it is a tough thing to do that without squirming, complaining, trying to make something, anything, happen. But what about when we can’t do anything to bring about what we’re hoping for? That waiting place is a scary place. It’s a frustrating and hope-threatening place.

But if we can do it, if we can learn to do it well, we can, like Sarah, bless the whole world. And that’s the promise – that the world will be blessed through us. Through the wait.

Q: You say that our world, our culture, doesn’t help us to wait well. What do you mean by that?

A:        Yes, I’ve never seen a success seminar on the topic of waiting. Instead, we’re always told we can do anything we set our minds to, reach for your dreams, get out of that rut. Or as Nike put it, Just do it!  

Our culture is about frantic doing and striving and trying to fix it and solve the problem now, don’t wait, it’s all up to you RIGHT NOW. We’re not only not taught how to wait well; we’re told that waiting is inherently wrong. Action gets the job done.

Yet there are many instances in life when you have no choice but to wait. Contrary to our culture’s mantras, much of life is not in our control.  We are not God.  And life just doesn’t go according to plan.

But as the world shouts that we can only make an impact if we “do do do,” God says to bless the world we need to learn to wait, to trust, to act in his timing (which, honestly, I usually find to be too slow!). 

Q: Can you give us one tip for waiting well that you learned through Sarah’s journey?

A:        I learned that the key to waiting well is turning to God not only in faith, but also in frustration, in fear, in anger, and in every other emotion that comes up as we wait and wait and God does not move or do at all what we want him to do.  It’s not in mustering up the right words or persona of faithfulness that makes us wait well. It’s in engaging with him, encountering him when we’re mad at him, or disappointed, or desperate or despairing that allows for deep, significant change.  Waiting well is something GOD does in us, not something we muster up for ourselves.

And in the wait, God takes the very things that cause us the most pain, the most shame, and transforms them for his glory.  In his time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Wait is Over! Waiting for Wonder is HERE!

Hi Friends,

Waiting for Wonder is finally available! I hope you'll join me with Sarah, Abraham's wife, on this journey through learning to wait well. A Leader Guide is also available for groups!

Here's a bit about the book:


Who is this God? Who is he who makes impossible promises, and then asks us to wait?  Who is He who shows us the stars in the sky when we don’t see even a glimmer of hope? Who is He when months turn to years and stretch to decades and still we wait? Who is this God of long intervals, painful delays, and yet-unanswered prayer?

It’s easy to believe God when a promise is new, fresh, bubbling with life.  It’s hard when the years pass and nothing changes.  It’s hard to keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing.  It’s hard when those you love betray you, when desperation strikes, when your own plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness.  But God is calling us to more.  He is calling us, as He called Sarah, to wonder, to laughter in the face of the impossible, to a blessing not just for us but for the whole world.

Come, join Sarah, Abraham’s wife, on a journey of discovery. Walk the long road to Canaan, be rescued from the harem of Pharaoh, hear the promises of God in the wilderness, struggle, fail, and finally believe that nothing, nothing at all, is too difficult for the Lord.  Come, wait with Sarah, and find your own journey in hers.

Because God’s timing is so rarely our own...
Because we lose the wonder in the waiting of life ...

Because Sarah shows us God -- Determined, breath-taking, and beyond all our plans...

Here's how I envision it might have been for Sarah when she laughed at God (EXCERPT from Chapter 9):

I am old. I feel the years deep in my bones. I carry them like stones in my soul. I look down at wrinkled hands, once smooth. Do they shake, just a little? Then I close my eyes. I don’t want to see. I don’t want to know. It is too hard to remember the years gone by, to feel them, to carry them and know that promises are long past.
            So I wait here, wait for nothing. I wait in the heat of the day when no breeze blows through the leaves of the great oak. I wait as Abraham sits and rests, an old man at the entrance of our tent, napping in the slice of shade.
            I stay inside, safe from the heat but not from the years.
            We are at Mamre again. And I remember how my Abraham built an altar to the Lord here so many years ago. An eternity ago, when our God told him to look up and gaze to the north, south, east, and west. All the land he saw was to be given to our descendants, descendants who were to be like the dust of the earth.
            As plentiful as dust. And still I don’t even have a grain of sand. Barren. As always.
            I sigh and turn from my thoughts. I listen to the last of the workers returning to their tents for their afternoon rest. I watch the dust settle in the air. I watch it and do not weep. The time for tears is long past. I have shed too many already.
            I glance out the tent flap. It is the very hottest part of the day. Cattle huddle under the shade of the oaks. A donkey swishes its tail. A camel looks out over the plain toward Sodom. A beautiful city, an evil one. And for once I am glad for the oaks of Mamre, glad to be here in the desolation.
            I move deeper into the tent. I have mending to do and preparation for the evening meal. But then there is a rustle outside. Voices. Abraham’s. And some I don’t recognize. I go toward the tent flap. Before I can lift it, Abraham rushes through.
            “Hurry! Knead three seahs of the finest flour and make some baked goods!”
            “Three seahs? So much?”
            “Yes, we have guests!”
            “Are we entertaining an army?” I peek from the tent. “There are but three. Who are they?”
            “I don’t know. But they are not normal travelers. There’s something . . . I don’t know, but only the finest for these guests. Please, Sarah.”
            He runs back out. Runs! Men of his age and stature do not run. But Abraham does. And for these strange men. I know he will find our best calf and have a servant prepare it. He will add butter and milk. And I will prepare three whole seahs, enough to feast dozens, fine enough for a king.
            I grab what I need. Flour and water, milk, and a touch of butter. I knead the bread, my fingers sinking deep in the dough. I knead, I bake, and I wonder.
            Who are these men who have come to the great oaks of Mamre, to the place where my husband built an altar and sacrificed to our God?
            I bake the bread quickly. Abraham serves it.
            I will not go out. I cannot. I dare not. So I hide here in my tent, in the shadows, away from the light of day, from the eyes of men who look like travelers but could be more. I hide from them. I hide from hope.
            I hear a man’s voice, deep, resonant. “Where’s your wife Sarah?” He calls me by my new name, my true name, this man who has not seen me.
            Abraham answers, “Right here in the tent.”
            I peek out, just barely. The men still have their backs to me. Abraham is motioning toward me. I shake my head. I do not move. I cannot. I dare not. The shadows are my cloak. I pull them tighter around me.
            Then one of the men speaks again. He speaks with authority and confidence. He speaks to my soul, and my heart breaks. “I will definitely return to you about this time next year,” he states. “Then your wife Sarah will have a son!”
            A laugh bubbles within me. A son? At my age? I’m no longer able to have children and my husband’s old! I glance at my wrinkled hands. They are shaking now, with age and disbelief, with pain and the bitterness of too many years of disappointment. A son? The laugh threatens to spill out. I swallow it. I keep it to myself, bury it in my heart. I laugh within.
            And the man speaks again. The one in the middle. “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’” He pauses, the question heavy in the air.
            How did he know? I am behind him. I am hidden. The shadows are my garment. I shrink from the light. He does not see me. He cannot. Can he?
            Who is this man who sees into my soul?
            His next words pierce me, undo me. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son.”
            The Lord? The Lord is here. He sees me. He knows me. And I have laughed at the promise of El Shaddai.
            Now my hands truly shake. Now I know fear. And maybe, perhaps, a hint of hope.
            Words slip from my lips. The only ones I speak. Quiet words. Foolish words. “I didn’t laugh.” A lie.
            He does not turn as he speaks again. He doesn’t look, but I know he sees. I know he hears. “No, you laughed.” The truth, bold and unadorned. It swallows up my lie and leaves nothing but truth, nothing but hope, in its place. No shame. No condemnation. Just the truth.
            The impossible truth.
            I cannot hide in shadows. I cannot hide in lies. I dare not hide from this one who sees me. I thought to serve here in the tent, unknown and uncalled.
            But he has called me. He has seen me. He has heard the silent laugh of my soul. Is anything too difficult for El Shaddai?
            Do I dare believe?

            Do I dare hope again?