Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Taming the Voices Within

Hi Friends,

I've been working on my next book, Reaching for Wonder (now available for pre-order -- yay!). I just finished the chapter on the man with a legion of demons. It got me thinking about what we do with the voices within. Here are some thoughts ...


Few stories are more fascinating than the tale of a man who held a legion of demons. Sometimes when we speak of demons in the New Testament, people want to argue about whether demons are real or if they are but forms of mental illness. Some want to debate how many demons can fit on the head of pin, or in this case, in one poor man. Others want to focus on the question of whether Christians are immune to possession. But no matter the debates, none of us are immune to the voices in our heads. We all know the whispers that arise in our minds when life turns to dark, painful places. All of us can relate to the pressures of insidious thoughts that are not from God and mean only to destroy us. Thoughts that tell us we’re worthless, hated, unable, unfit, unwanted, abandoned, helpless, hopeless, and no one, even God, can redeem us. Thoughts that drive us to actions we despise and cause us to hurt those around us. Voices that build hate and fury, that break community, crush love, and leave us lonely.
         You know those thoughts. You know the chaos they create within you. I do too.
         They drive us from ourselves and from others. But they cannot dirve us from Jesus. The story of the man with a legion of demons tells us that. So I look to this man with thousands of voices screaming for attention in his head, and I wonder … what is it like to encounter Christ with when the voices are so loud you can no longer hear yourself think, or pray, or believe? Can Jesus reach through the voices within? Can he silence them? And in doing so, will we hear the very voice of God?

         Let’s travel with the demoniac to the very edge of the Sea of Galilee. Let us bring our inner voices, the lies we believe and act on, the fears that eat our souls, and see what happens when those voices encounter the living God.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How Humbling Yourself in Your Time of Need Changes Everything (Guest Post by Tricia Goyer)

Hi Friends,
I wanted to share this blog post by my longtime friend, Tricia Goyer, whose new book, Walk It Out, will be releasing soon. I found her thoughts helpful and inspiring. I hope you do too!
How humbling yourself in your time of need changes everything - Tricia Goyer

How Humbling Yourself Can Change Everything by Tricia Goyer

The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen. Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”
I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”
His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor.
I took in a breath and then released in, telling myself to keep my voice steady, calm. “I’d be happy to get you a drink. I just need you to ask.”
He kicked his foot against the floor. “But I want a drink now!”
“I know you do.” I peered down at him. “And as soon as you ask the right way I’m happy to get you some ice-cold water.”
And then my son stood, smiled up at me and asked so sweetly for a drink of water … NOT! 
Instead, he whined and fussed more. Finally, I asked him to leave the kitchen.
You know what? He never did ask. In fact, he didn’t get anything to drink until fifteen minutes later when we were sitting down to dinner. He was so bent on complaining and whining—on feeding his discontent—he didn’t want to release his control in order to ask me for help. I would have gladly given him the drink he requested if only he asked in the right away.
Feeding Our Discontent
I wish I could say this is just a little kid issue, but I’ve been there myself. During my teen years I lived in that storm of discontent. I complained when things didn’t go my way. I worried. I fretted. I fought.
I even took matters into my own hands when I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 15. My own fears and worries led me to a choice I now regret—I had an abortion.
It wasn’t until years later, at age 17 when I was pregnant again, that things took a turn for the better. It’s then I humbled myself and turned to God. By this point I realized the whining, complaining, and acting out wasn’t getting me what I wanted or needed.
At six months along, I wrapped my arms around my growing stomach and prayed, “Lord, if you can do anything with my life, please do.”
God showed up big time. He not own gave me Himself (which is the best!), He has also led me on a journey where radical and wonderful things have happened. This has included marrying a wonderful Christian man, having two more kids, starting a crisis pregnancy center, mentoring teen moms, adopting seven more children, and writing over 70 books!
God didn’t just offer me a cup of cool water when I asked. He opened the floodgates of blessing. But it took me humbling myself and seeking Jesus to meet my needs.
This reminds me of a Scripture I was reading just this morning, “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life,” Lamentations 5:55-58.
Mumbling, complaining and griping is easy, but they rob us of having our greatest needs met. Yet when we humble ourselves and turn to God, things will change for the better.
When we call to the Lord, He hears us. When we turn to Him, He comes. When we call to Him, He reminds us that He is present and we have no reason to fear. When we place our needs in His court, Jesus redeems our life.
It took a lot to humble me as a teen—two unplanned pregnancies in fact. Yet I’m thankful that I learned back then that when I turn to God He will meet my needs. He will meet them in more wonderful ways than I ever expected.
You can read more about how God can show up radically in your life in the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time.
If you pre-order Walk It Out before October 1, you’ll also receive 30 Days of Prayer as You Walk It Out FREE! Details here: http://www.triciagoyer.com/walk-it-out/

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

NEW COVER and an Excerpt!!

Hi Friends,

So excited to show you the new cover for REACHING FOR WONDER, Encountering Christ When Life Hurts. So here it is:

And here is a short excerpt to encourage you today (from the chapter on the Samaritan woman at the well):

That’s the power of the truth spoken by Jesus into our lives. The power to transform our deepest shame into our greatest tool for his glory, for drawing others to him. She spoke only the tiniest truth, “I have no husband.” But spoken to Jesus, it was enough to help her face the whole truth, and instead of destroying her, it set her free.
So why are we so afraid of the truth? Why do we so want to hide? When my children were little, they would put their hand over their eyes and believe that we somehow couldn’t see them. I have a horse who will hide his face in the corner of his pen and think that he has been rendered invisible. The truth is, we’re all like that, especially if we’ve done something we’re ashamed of. We cover up, we hide, and we think somehow we can’t be seen.
But God sees. God knows. And instead of condemning he wants to restore.  He wants to give us the gift of aletheia. In New Testament Greek, aletheia is the word for truth, but it comes from the root word meaning unhidden. So when Jesus says, “the truth will set you free,” he means that this freedom he offers includes this gift of grace: We don’t have to hide anymore. We don’t have to be ashamed.
         Too often we think we bring others to Christ by how much we know. But this encounter with Jesus by a shamed Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well tells us that aletheia is what calls people to “come and see.” It’s the unhiddenness, the truth, of who we really are. All the scars, all the mistakes, all the mess … we need not point to Jesus around it, we must point through it. Because there, like a mosaic of broken glass, we find that Jesus has taken our shards and made them into something beautiful. He has made his light to shine through in beauty and amazing wonder.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon by clicking here: REACHING FOR WONDER

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fight, Flight, or ... A Better Way to Face Fear

Hi Friends,

Here is one of the stories I love sharing with the kids who come out to our Ranch. Many live in places where fear is a part of life. Some can't even go outside their apartments to play for fear of being caught in a gang shooting. Some have escaped abusive environments and now live in foster homes. Some don't have any homes at all. But for all of us, me included, fear is a poor decision-maker. It leads us to foolish choices and dangerous decisions. This story reminds me that God is a much better decision-maker and trust in him, even and especially in the scariest circumstances, leads to wisdom.

Here's what happened at Wonder Wood Ranch a few years ago:

It was such a normal morning.  Quiet.  Boring, as I walked out to feed our two horses.  The air was crisp, the sun just peeking over the pines, the grass still sparkling with dew.  A regular morning.  Calm, uneventful . . . until I turned a corner and saw the horses’ pens.
            I stopped.  There, one of the heavy-gauge metal panels lay twisted and on its side.  The metal bars were bent and torn.  I ran forward. 
            The horse was gone.
            A moment later, I reached the smashed up mess that had been part of the horse pen.  Chunks of palomino fur lay on the dirt, the only remnants of the 1,300 pound gelding who had somehow crumbled the thick metal and escaped. 
            I glanced at our other horse.  She stood inside her pen trembling, her nostrils flared with fierce snorts. 
            “What’s wrong, girl?  Where’s Biscuit?”  I strove to keep the panic from my voice.
            She snorted some more, then raced around her pen and stared up into the hills. 
            I jogged around the pen to the far side.  I looked up into the hills.  And saw nothing.  I peered into the trees to the left.  Nothing.  Down the road.  Nothing. 
            Then I looked down.
            And understood.
           There, clearly pressed in the mud, were two huge paw prints.  Cat paws.  And next to them were two sets of smaller prints.  I shivered.  Mountain lions.  No wonder the horses were scared. 
            I bent lower and tracked the prints.  The cats, a mama and a couple cubs, had come down the hill and stopped fifteen feet outside the mare’s pen.  Then, according to the prints, they turned around and ran back into the brush.  They didn’t enter the pens or harm the horses.  They just stood there, then ran away.
            But that was enough for Biscuit.  Enough to drive him wild with fear.  To cause him to climb out of his pen and smash up the metal panel as he went.  Enough to make him run away from food, from shelter, from the ones who cared for him.
            We spent the rest of the day searching for our missing horse (and replacing the broken panel).  Hours later, we found Biscuit.  In the middle of the night, he had run off in a direction he’d never been before.  He’d traveled almost a mile down dangerous two-lane road, crossed it, then found his way to a barbed wire pasture.  He could have been hit, gotten cut, or been killed.  He hadn’t drunk any water, eaten anything but some snatches of grass, and had long tears where his back legs scraped against the metal fence. 
            As I led him back to his pen, to water, to food, to shelter, to safety, I thought about what drove him to escape.  Fear did that.  Simple, primitive, instinctual fear.  The mountain lion and her cubs hadn’t endangered him at all.  It was the escape that put him in real danger.
            And I wondered if fear does the same thing to me.  Something scary appears on the horizon of my life.  Maybe it doesn’t actually threaten me, or come into my space.  I just catch a whiff of it in the air, see a bit of tawny fur on the outskirts of my vision.  I see the possibilities, sense what could happen if the lion attacks.
            How easy it is in those circumstances to run, to panic, to do things that don’t make sense.  Fear is like that.  It can tempt me to hurt myself, put myself in danger, leave the place where I am fed and cared for.  Instead of trusting God’s care, I, too, want to scrape and scrabble, fend for myself, throw myself into desperate acts to get away from the thing that scares me.  And in doing so, I put myself in the worst danger of all.
            Maybe that’s why the command to not be afraid appears more than three hundred times in the Bible.  Hebrews 13:6 (NIV) tells how to respond when fear comes out of the hills and stares at us with yellow eyes.  It says, “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’"

            So, instead scrambling out of the fences in our lives and running down dangerous roads to unknown pastures, God calls us to stay calm, trust Him, and remain in his will.  He calls us not to fear the mountain lions, but to trust in the boundaries he places around us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Can Life Be More than This?

Hi Friends,

I'm working hard (all prayers very much appreciated!) on my new book, Reaching for Wonder. This week, I'm hoping to finish the chapter on the Samaritan woman who encounters Jesus by the well of her ancestor, Jacob. Below is the longing of my heart as I read her story. Maybe it's your longing too? In Christ can there be more than, "Is it what it is"?  Pray for me, please, as I delve deeper into the wonder of this story that is resonating inside me this week!

Here's an except from my work-in-progress ...

“Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done!”
John 4:4-42

         It is what it is. I’ve said the phrase many times, but never with hope. Never with joy. It is an expression of deep resignation. Sometimes, it’s a saying that secretly breaks my heart.
         Does it always have to be this way? Is it really too late? Is the life I have all that life will ever become? Are my pain, my shame, iron bars of a prison cell? Or perhaps, in the hands of the Messiah, might they be the strange keys to escape?
         I bring my helplessness, my hopelessness, to the well with the Samaritan woman. I search for a thirsty man sitting by its side. I come with bucket empty and heart not daring to hope. But I come. I listen.
         I encounter my Christ in the story of another woman whose heart beat like mine, whose doubts and fears and shame had made her believe that life could never be anything more.

         And I wonder … will this stranger by Jacob’s well free me too?  Will he see me for who I truly am and still make me whole? Can my life be more than it is what it is?