Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Seeing God on the Diabetes Road

Hi Friends,

Well, this has certainly been a tough, life-changing week as my six-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an irreversible, unpreventable, and incurable autoimmune disease where his immune system attacks and kills the cells in his pancreas that produce insulin. He now requires careful monitoring of his carb intake, blood sugar (several finger pokes a day), and insulin shots at least 4 times a day. 

And so as I struggle to adjust to this new normal, I’m looking back to the things I believe, to what I so know to be true that I wrote it in Wrestling with Wonder.  At the 2am blood checks when his number drops into the danger zone, when I’m so intent on figuring out his meal that I forget if I’ve eaten mine, when I look to the endless future of insulin and monitoring, when the numbers are too high or the numbers are too low, when I sink in exhaustion and cringe at the whispers of fear, when I look at this path that I never imagined and never would have wanted ...

When God calls me to this journey through my son’s diabetes, I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. And today, this is what has encouraged me, reminded me that I am not alone. 

And for a moment, I see hope again ...

Chapter 3 Excerpt

         Sometimes we have to travel a path we don’t understand to arrive in the place where God wants us to be.
And as I recall my journey, and Mary’s, they teach me that even through hurt and discomfort, maybe especially in hurt and pain, God is leading to a place where I will glimpse his glory anew. He is saying to me that I must travel the path he has placed before me in order to get to the place he has planned for me since the beginning. 
So, when you’ve surrendered to God’s call and are suddenly thrust onto a road you never imagined and never wanted, remember, he knows the path you take. He travels with you, within you, and you will see him as you never could have before if you just keep going, trust, and persevere.
There, you will see the face of the Messiah. You will meet him in a new way. So, place one foot in front of the other, walk through your life day by day, know that this road, as pointless as it seems, is the only way to his will. 
Jesus must be born in Bethlehem. You must travel the difficult road at the worst time in your life to get there. Keep going, have faith, walk ... and you will get to that new place where you will see him in a new way. The place where you will be changed. Don’t give up. Don’t despair. 

This road leads to Bethlehem ... the place where you will Christ face to face.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Are you Waiting for Wonder?

Hi Friends,


Are you in a waiting place in life? Perhaps a dry place, a barren place? If so, I wanted to share with you a little snippet from the book I'm working on now, which I'm calling Waiting for Wonder. The book is about Sarah, Abraham's wife.

Will you also pray for this book? I've only written the proposal (which includes the intro and chapter one) and publishers are considering it now.

Meanwhile, here is a little snippet that I hope will encourage you on your journey with God:

Who Is This God?

        This is a God who promises descendants as numerous as the grains of sand, to a barren woman.
This is a God who blesses all the families on earth through a woman with no family at all.
He is a God who reveals his glory through a man born blind, who could not enter the temple, the outcast.
And he reaches an entire town through a woman so ashamed she went to a well in the middle of the day.
This is what God does. God chooses us precisely for the places where nothing seems to change and hope is sparse. He is the God who uncovers the deepest place of our shame and pain, and promises to bless the whole world right from that very place. 
We sit in our barrenness, in our blindness, in our shame ... we may sit for a long time. But we do not sit without hope. Like Sarai, we hold the strange, impossible promises of God.
So, I look at Sarai.  And I know we are all barren. There are empty places in us all. 
       And I ask myself, will I set forth on this journey with her to discover a God who promises to take the places of my deepest shame and pain and transform them to bless the whole world? 
Will I dare step forward, knowing that the darkest places of my soul will be revealed, my pain will have no secrets, and promises may take decades to be fulfilled.
Do I dare embrace the empty places? Do I dare acknowledge my shame? And in doing so, might I embrace the very promises of God? 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When the Worst Happens...

Hi Friends,

Sometimes the worst happens. Sometimes you hope and pray and what happens is even worse than you feared.  Sometimes a dear friend gets devastating news. Sometimes a young man enters a church and lets bullets fly. People die. Hopes are crushed. And all seems lost.

Mary has been there too. Been there when her son was condemned to die, when the crowds shouted "Crucify him!" and Pilate pronounced the death sentence.  All her hopes, all her prayers, and death came anyway.

I can barely breathe when I think about it, really ponder it. So, this week, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from Wrestling with Wonder that speaks to my heart this week as I try to catch my breath  and catch of glimpse of Who God is when the worst becomes reality.

I hope you, too, will find hope and help in these words …


WRESTLING WITH WONDER Excerpt:


 Jesus had to die on a Roman cross for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God.
            There was no other way.
            Of course, Mary didn’t know that. But God did. And so do we.
            We know that the Messiah had to die a sinner’s death in our place that we might be free. From Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, we know that if there were an easier path, God would have chosen it.
            In Matthew 26, Jesus prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”
            And the soldiers, crowds, and Jewish leaders came and arrested him. They bound him. They beat him. They crucified him. And it was the will of God.
            There was no other way.
            The Messiah did not ascend to an earthly throne. The religious leaders did not recognize him. He was rejected, a crown not of gold but of thorns pressed upon his head, anointed not with kingly oil but with his own blood.
            There was no other way.
            Isaiah 53:3-6 says:
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
  a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
  he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, 
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, 
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, 
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

            He was sinless, and condemned. He was lied about, and the truth didn’t prevail. He was accused, and said nothing. He was scourged, and not rescued. And then he died on a criminal’s cross.
            There was no other way.
            Because “it was the Lord’s will to crush him,” says Isaiah 53:10. There was no other way for Jesus to satisfy his Messiahship. No other way for the prophecies to be fulfilled. No other way for the promises to come true.
            No easier way for Mary to become who she was always meant to be—not just the mother of the Messiah, but the mother of the Savior.
            “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way,” says C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain.
            The God who called Mary to face her worst fears is the same God who calls us. He calls in those times when the worst happens, when what we feared might happen does happen. When it seems like life has gone from bad to worse and every time we pray something even more awful happens, that is when God is saying to us:
            There is no other way.
            No other way for him to accomplish his will in your life, to make you the person you were meant to be. If this cup could pass, it would.
            But it doesn’t.

            Because this is the way. And sometimes we must walk in it, with faith, with trust, with one foot in front of the other, even when all our fears come true.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lessons from Camping - When Life is Dark and Scary

Hi Friends,


We recently went camping for Joelle's birthday, and I was reminded of something I learned a few years ago when the twins were little. I learned that when it's dark and scary and things are new and different, to remember "Jesus here" and relax into the reality of the God who loves me and is near me.

So, if you're going through a dark, scary time, here's some encouragement:


Mommy's Here

            Darkness closed in around our camper just as the crickets began to sing. It was going to be a long night.  I knew it because there was no familiar crib, no Curious George toy, no door I could close to shut my two-year-old daughter off from the strange and scary noises of the night.
            I zipped up Jayna’s jammies and kissed her forehead.  Then, I set her on the bed in the pop-up camper and pointed to a spot beside the canvas wall.   “Night night time, Jayna. Lay down.”
            Her brow wrinkled.  Her lip trembled.  “Nigh Nigh?”
            “It’s okay.  Lay down.”  I pointed again.  “Close eyes.”
            She looked down at the spot.  Her eyes stayed opened.  Too wide. 
            I cringed.  “No cry.  Go night night.”  I patted the bed.
            She sniffed and scowled some more.  Then, she rubbed her nose and pranced in a circle around the bed, her head barely skimming the canvas above. 
            “No, no, no!”  I snatched her up and plunked her down on the thin mattress.  “Night night.”
            She sprung back up.
            I bit my lip.  I knew this wasn’t going to work.  Jayna was used to her own room, her own crib, her own little Winnie the Pooh bumper to keep her head from hitting the crib’s slats.  This wide camper bed, with plain sheets, wobbly sides, and a big pillow was nothing like where she slept every night.  It was strange, different.  Weird.  I sighed.  “Okay, just wait a minute.”
            I put on my pajamas and quickly brushed my teeth.  Then, I crawled into the bed beside her and pulled up the covers.
       
     She stopped prancing and stood still.  She looked at me.
            I patted the bed beside me.  “Night night.  Lay down by Mommy.”
            She plopped down and rolled on her side, her big eyes fastened on my face.
            I blinked as a swath of moonlight trickled in to illuminate Jayna’s face.
            She smiled at me.
            I smiled back. 
            She inched closer.  Then, she sat up and patted my shoulder.  “Mama hee-a.”  The words came out as an awed whisper.
            “Yes, Mommy’s here.”
            She laid back down and snuggled up next to me.  Then she began to laugh.  “Mama here.  Mama here.  Mama here,” she said between giggles.  She turned to face me.  A huge grin lit her face.  She touched my cheek.  “Mama.  Here.”
            I laughed with her as I held out my arms and gathered her close. 
            She closed her eyes, the smile still evident on her little face.  She was happy, thrilled, comfortable, secure.  Despite the darkness, despite the strangeness, despite the weird sound of a hundred crickets chirping outside in the night.  None of that matter, because Mommy was here.  The joy of Mommy’s presence drove all the fear away.
            As I laid there in the moonlight, with Jayna snoring softly next to me, I marveled that for her “Mama here” was enough.  And if that was so, shouldn’t “Jesus here” be enough for me as well?
            When I enter the dark places in my life, times laced with uncertainty, scattered with strange and unfamiliar sounds, why should I fear?  Jesus is with me.  He said in Matthew 28:20 (NIV), “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  Always.  When I’m traveling alone, when I’m in a group of strangers, when I’m trying something new, when I’m in circumstances that are unfamiliar and difficult.  He is with me. 
            When worries chirp outside my camper walls, when I can’t see beyond the end of my bed, when it looks like life is taking a turn to places that make my brows wrinkle and my lips tremble, then God says to me, as it says in Isaiah 41:10 (NIV), “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
            And so maybe, for me too, “Jesus here” will be enough.  Maybe I don’t need to fear because God is with me, wherever I go, wherever I lay down to rest.  Maybe I, too, can just snuggle in and have a little giggle.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Life's a Puzzle

Hi Friends,

Joelle turns 12 this week (where does the time go???!!!), and in honor of her I wanted to share a story from 10 years ago, when she was 2. She's always loved puzzles.


So, for those times when life is puzzling, when the pieces aren't what you would have chosen, when the puzzle isn't so fun, here's a bit of wisdom I learned from my beautiful Joelle...

Life as Pieces of the Puzzle

“No, Sweetie, that doesn’t go there.”  I pointed my finger at the puzzle piece in my two-year-old daughter’s hand.
Joelle studied the bright piece and frowned.  Vivid reds and pinks splashed over the cardboard surface.  “Flower.  Go dere.”  She again pushed it into the open space along one side of the puzzle. 
“It won’t fit.  You’re not ready for that piece yet.”
“Fit.  Go dere.”  Her brows furrowed as she turned the piece sideways and tried again.  Push, turn, shove, turn, stare, frown.  And still the piece wouldn’t slide into place.
I tapped my fingers on the table and reached for the puzzle piece. 
Joelle hid it against her chest.
I had to admit, it was a beautiful piece.  Rose petals shone against the deep green background and created an enticing image of color.  But no matter how hard Joelle tried, it wouldn’t fit into spot she had chosen for it. 
I watched her struggle for a few more minutes, then searched through the pile for the right piece.  I finally found it – a piece covered in shades of ugly brown with dark knobs for the tree trunk.  “Here, love, try this one.”  I handed her the picture of the brown trunk.
She looked at the piece in my hand, then at the pretty flowers in hers.  She pushed my hand away.  “No.”
I wiggled my fingers.  “This is the one you need.” 
“No.”  She pointed at my hand.  “Yucky.” 
I looked down at the piece.  She was right.  It was yucky compared to the flowers.  But it was the piece she needed at this time.  The only one that would fit in order to make the picture complete.  
The difference was that I had the whole picture in mind, the whole puzzle.  She, only the piece in her hand.  It took Joelle five full minutes to finally put down the flowered piece and try the one I was holding out to her.
Not that I blamed her.  I prefer flowered pieces too.  In the picture of my life, I’ve often tried to shove in the pretty piece – something that looks good, seems appealing.  I want success in my career now.  I want my relationships to be easy and comfortable.  I want my children to always choose what’s right, and my health to be excellent. 
But sometimes God holds out a piece that isn’t nearly so attractive.  He calls me to a difficult task, to face failure or fear, to endure a painful situation, or to invest in a relationship that seems to bring only heartache.  At those times, the piece He’s giving me looks brown, gnarled, and ugly when I want bright and beautiful. 
           
And sometimes, I, too, want to hang on to my idea of how my life should be right now.  Sometimes I want to force a pretty piece, one I like better, when God’s giving me the less attractive piece because in the end that’s the one that will make the picture of my life right.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” God tells the people of Israel in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  And the same holds true for me.  He knows the plans He has for me.  His plans, not mine.  Plans that take into account the whole picture of my life, the picture He is creating especially for me. 
So these days, as I watch Joelle put puzzle pieces together, I remind myself that God knows all the pieces of my life, where they fit, and in what order they must be placed. And when he hands me a piece that isn’t all flowers, I need to trust that He sees the whole picture, and one day that picture will be beautiful.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

When Life is Manure and Mud

Hi Friends,

Well, this week isn't going exactly as planned. Case in point - yesterday Joelle and I planned on a nice little ride on our horses. Instead, our ride was cut short by a tumble into the mud and a face full of horse poop.  We were only 20 minutes into our ride when Joelle's horse got scared, scrambled sideways up a hill, and Joelle slipped off into the muddy puddle … a puddle which happened to form in the exact place where her horse poops in the pasture after a water pipe burst in the barn. Perfect timing, perfect placement, the perfect coming-together of accidents, mishaps, and brokenness to end up with a face full of manure and mud.

Sometimes life is like that.

Sometimes things go awry and we end up covered in mud (and poo).

So, for those times when you've landed in the mud and are covered in stink, here are a few thoughts from C.S. Lewis that have encouraged me:


1) From Screwtape Letters (remember this is the demon Screwtape talking to his nephew Wormword):  "We want him [Wormwood's 'patient' that they are trying to lure from his faith] to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear.  There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [i.e., God].  He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

2) From Mere Christianity: "We must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time.  When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly.  When troubles come along -- illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed.  These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before.  It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us."

3) And my favorite, from Mere Christianity:  "If we let Him - for we can prevent Him, if we choose - He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a ... dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness.  The process will be long and in parts very panful, but that is what we are in for.  Nothing less.  He meant what He said."

So, when you find yourself thrown into a muddy, poopy puddle in life, remember that mud (or even manure) is not permanent. God's got just the soap for that! You will be dazzling and radiant in His sight. 

May you be showered with the wonder of God's grace and love!