Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On the Murder of Pastor Herb Valero

Hi Friends,
Pastor Herb, from his Facebook page

I’ve just learned of the murder of Victory Outreach Pastor Herb Valdore, who was stabbed in the neck by one of his parishioners when he went outside to pray - TO PRAY - for the man. At first I was horrified by this horrific event. I was rocked by the depravity and evil. But now … now, I’m just mad. Mad! Not so much mad at the man who stabbed Pastor Herb, but mad at evil. Mad at the enemy of our souls who hates every good thing we do, who hates redemption and hope and beauty and wonder and glory. Who hates most of all the hearts that serve our God and King and work to redeem and restore. 

Well, I say, ENOUGH!

I will not let Pastor Herb’s murder cow me into doing any less in my broken community. I refuse to be afraid. Pastor Herb ministered to the most broken of our city. He gave his life for them. We should too.

His life, and his death, stand out like a beacon, declaring that THIS WAR IS REAL. The war against evil, sin, brokenness, hate, and destruction is REAL. The enemy is REAL. And we must NOT let him win. 

Cower in the corner, afraid? I think not! Fear is a tool of the enemy. Time to cinch up our battle gear and pray like we mean it. And not just pray for safety, but pray for the redemption of souls, restoration of lives, and the glory of God in the darkest darkness. Time to get out there and LOVE with more abandon, more fierceness, more joy! Time to fight this battle with the passion of those who know Whose side we’re on and believe the promises of our God.

The enemy used evil to take out a light in our community. I say let ten, twenty, a hundred more lights shine bright, fierce, determined, in his place. Let us stand together and fight with the best weapon we have: The powerful, consuming, fierce love of our God!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Patricia's Story ... A Legacy of Wonder

Hi Friends,

I've just returned from the memorial service of a friend who was such a gift from God to me. Her service, just as her life, was a testimony to the grace and wonder of the God she loved. So, as I grieve and bask in the glow of a life well lived, I wanted to share an excerpt from my latest book, Waiting for Wonder, that talks about Patricia and her legacy of Wonder.

This is from the final chapter:
We become who we really are in the wait. And who we are matters.
            I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve seen it while sitting on a couch next to a friend dying of ALS. I’ve seen it in hands, once nimble, trembling as they barely pecked a computer’s keyboard. I’ve heard it in speech, once clear, once sure, now slurred and halting. I’ve witnessed the truth, the beauty, of a woman who knows how to wait, a woman who changes her world.
            I hadn’t seen her in over a month except across the sanctuary at church. But that day, two friends and I stopped by her house to pray with her. When I walked in the door, I saw that she was thinner than before. And her hug was weaker. But her smile was the same. And her countenance glowed.
            We settled on the couch and asked how she was doing. I expected to hear about how hard it is to live with ALS, about the difficulties of not being able to tie a shoe, button a shirt, type an email, or go on the long prayer-walks she used to love. I’d gone on one of those walks with her and experienced the joy she once took in them. Now she could barely shuffle across the room. I knew I would cry, and I did . . . but not for the reason I’d expected.
            Instead of telling us about the progression of her disease, she asked about me. She asked how was I holding up with Jayden’s new diabetes diagnosis, was I finding time to draw close to God in quietness and solitude, was I able to make space for myself to renew my soul? She told me she had been praying for me. I shared and received her love. Then I received a greater blessing.
            She leaned in, her voice lowered. “I’m so glad you came.” She smiled. “I want to tell you what God has done.” She pulled the computer onto her lap and tapped at it with one shaking finger. Pictures flashed on the screen. Sisters, nieces, relatives who had always been hostile to the love of Christ. She had been praying for them for years, decades, without even the tiniest softening of their hearts toward God. And still she prayed, and waited, and prayed some more. Year after year, decade after decade.
            She pointed to a twenty-something girl on the screen. “You remember my niece? A friend of hers died, and then she heard about my disease. She’s going to church now with that friend’s family. She accepted Christ.” Her face glowed with joy. “And that’s not all. My sister is going to church with her. The sister who wouldn’t even let me talk about God. When she was here visiting me because of my ALS, she asked me if we could go to church.” Then she told us about others who were becoming open to God’s love since her diagnosis. A runaway daughter had come home. Another sibling had been able to talk of God to their aunt. Story after story of loved ones who were opening their hearts to her because of her disease, and so were also opening their hearts to Jesus after years and years of waiting.
            Through this horrific disease, God was moving in ways she’d been praying about for decades. Years of praying and waiting and seeing no movement, and now as ALS ravaged her body and threatened her life, she glowed with the joy of seeing God’s work in the long wait. She was filled with a wonder that ALS could not steal.
            And I wept at the sight of that wonder, the wonder of a faithful servant whose soul was formed in the waiting, a woman dying of ALS and yet filled with such hope that even as her body fails, she glows with the faith of one who knows she’s truly loved.
            And I know that the wait was where the work was done. It was in those years of prayers with no answer that she became this beautiful woman of God, a woman who will leave a legacy of love.
            Not one prayer, not one cry, not one moment of all those years was wasted. God used them all. It all mattered.
            And now God was using the disease that would take her life. And in the midst of it all, she had no regrets. Because when she gave her life to Christ, she meant it. She still does.
         That’s Sarah’s kind of faith. That’s Sarah’s kind of legacy. I am blessed to have seen it. The whole world is blessed.
         That is a life that has waited well. That is a life that changes the world, that blesses the world.

         And I am amazed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Grace and Falling Trees

Hi Friends,

What a week around here! We have over 30 giant (over 150' tall) trees down all over the property, with corresponding smashed up fences, our well is covered in downed trees, holes in houses, a couple tent-buildings torn up and upended, etc. No loss of life or injuries to animals or humans though (yay - thank you, God, for that!). Just tons of property damage.

As I was surveying the extensive damage (with the power out), I thought about the last time we had a downed tree (just one that time!) and the lessons God taught me.

Those lessons are needed again now, especially when we've had so much more damage! I thought you might appreciate them as well, so here ya go (all pictures are from our current storm damage ... as I work from the local coffee lounge because we're on day 5 of our power outage, sigh):

The Grace of Falling Trees

            Morning mist gathered on the window of my home office. I sipped my hot lemon water and thought about kidney stones and Type 1 diabetes. I thought about allergies and infections, broken lives, broken families, strained relationships. I pondered lost jobs and clients who refused to pay what they owe, stacks of bills and relatives hovering at death’s door. I thought about all the things that either I or someone I loved was facing at that moment, things that were completely out of my control.
            Lord, where are you ...
            I waited in the silence.
            I drank my water. I watched the droplets of mist just beginning to evaporate. Then I sighed and began to work on my next book.
            A minute passed, then two, then ten.
            The air rumbled. The house jolted, shook, shuddered.
            My water spilled over my desk. I leapt up. The house tumbled to a stop. I caught my breath. An earthquake? But the shaking had not come from the ground below. Instead, it came from all around me.
            I ran through my bedroom toward the front door. I glanced right. No light came through the windows on either side of my bed. Instead a flurry of green and brown blocked the panes.
            I raced outside. Sunlight splashed into my eyes, sunlight that was usually shaded by the giant cypress that grew in our front yard.
            The tree was gone.
            I turned toward it. And that’s when I saw a miracle.
            The tree, over fifty feet tall with a truck three feet in diameter, had fallen precisely in the narrow, less-than-ten-foot opening between our house and garage. I walked over to it and looked down the long length of the trunk. Had it fallen a little to the left, our newly-built garage would have been crushed. If it had gone just a bit to the right, our house would have been smashed, and me with it. But there it lay, exactly between, with just a few branches on each roof.
            Grandpa came out of his house next door and joined me. He looked at the tree. I looked at him. “Thank goodness the kids weren’t out here playing. This is just the time you usually come outside to play with them.”
            He glanced at me. “They asked to come out. I told them to wait ten minutes. I wasn’t ready yet.”
            The tree had fallen in that ten minutes. I swallowed. Hard.
            Then we went to inspect the damage. As we got closer, I could see that the tree had broken the roof of the tiny shed that covered our hot water heater and air conditioning unit. The unit had a small dent in the top, but the hot water heater was untouched. But that wasn’t all. Branches lay on each side of the delicate piping that rose along the house walls and traveled across to the garage. Not a single pipe was broken, even though several branches speared through the shed’s roof like swords through paper.
            Grandpa shook his head. “This tree couldn’t have landed more perfectly to cause the least damage, even if we had guided it ourselves.” Grandpa squatted down under the branches held up by the shed’s roof and examined the hot water heater. “The pilot light isn’t even out.” He glanced up at me.
            I glanced up at the sky.
            I wasn’t squashed. The kids weren’t dead. No one was hurt, not even the house or garage. And there wasn’t water spurting everywhere. A centimeter in any direction, ten minutes later ... There was only one Person I knew who could place a falling tree so perfectly in time and space.
            Thank you, Lord.
            I could almost sense him smile.
            I had been pondering all the hard things in life over which I had no control. I had felt the weight of all those things in my soul. But with one falling tree, God had reminded me that the One who could place a giant cypress so carefully between my house and garage would also handle all the other “falling trees” that concerned me.
            Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care...So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29,31 NIV)
            When things seem to be falling apart, when I’m afraid, when I’m in danger, God is guiding everything that’s coming down around me. I may shudder and shake, but God is in control.

            So even when giant trees fall and my whole house shudders, every branch, every leaf, every breath, every life, is guided by the hands of the God who loves me. So even in the scariest moments, I don’t need to be afraid.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why We Are All Living in Tents

Hi Friends,
As I think this week about what it means to be sojourners and foreigners, I am reminded of the journey of Sarah & Abraham in Genesis and how we often think that a place, that arriving "there" will solve all our problems. It was never meant to be so. 

So for those feeling like life hasn't turned out the way they'd hoped, here's some encouragement from my latest book, Waiting for Wonder:

Sometimes, getting where you want to go is not the answer you hoped it would be. Markus Persson, the founder of Minecraft, recently discovered this truth. A year after he sold his company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion, he tweeted, “The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.” Two minutes later, at nearly three in the morning, he followed that tweet with another: “Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated.”[1]
            I ponder these thoughts as I imagine Sarai’s arrival in the promised land. I consider what it means to finally arrive in the place God has promised and find it is not everything one dreamed or hoped. “When Jesus calls us, he does not guarantee the future or even tell us what it will be like,” says scholar Kent Hughes when commenting on Genesis 12.[2]
            Even when we get there, we can’t kick back, settle in, and assume the hard journey is over. I should know this. After eleven years of trying to having a baby, I finally held my newborn girl in my arms. She was beautiful, with pink cheeks, a head full of soon-to-be-curly hair, perfect little fingers, toes . . . vocal cords. She yelled at the top of her lungs for three nights straight after she was born. Nothing appeased her. She had opinions, and she let them be known. I didn’t sleep for 72 hours.
Having a new baby was not the cream-colored, angels-singing, everything-is-a-picture-perfect-painting that I had envisioned. Now, as a teen, my daughter is still beautiful, fierce, determined, and a reminder of what it really looks like to live in the promises of God.
            Sometimes it means you have no rest, no pillow on which to lay your head.
            To come to the place God has called us does not mean we’ve arrived at peace, perfection, sweetness, and light. It means we are sojourners, we are foreigners. We arrive, but we are still living in tents.
            And that’s the way it is meant to be.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/minecraft-founder-feels-isolated-unhappy-2015-8
[2] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 182.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Podcast on Learning to Live on God's Timeline

Hi Friends,

I just finished up a podcast for the Debbie Chavez Show on my new book and what we can learn through our times of waiting. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/2jVHqL0

Please enjoy this conversation about Sarah (Abraham's wife), my kids, and the treasures to be found in the waiting times of life...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

When You're Stuck in the Waiting Place

Hi Friends,

In good news, Crosswalk.com just published an excerpt from my new book, WAITING FOR WONDER, Learning to Live on God's Timeline. Yay!

So, if you'd like to hear "How to be faithful when you're stuck in the waiting place" here's the link to the Crosswalk post:


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

When It's a New Year and You're Still Waiting...

Hi Friends,

Happy New Year! Starting a new year is supposed to be filled with hope and promise and looking forward to the new things God will do. But what about those things that you've waited and waited and waited for, the things you've been praying for, that still haven't happened and remain beyond your grasp?

What does it look it like to keep waiting in faith when it's a new year and God is still saying, "Not yet. Not quite yet"?

Here's an excerpt from Waiting for Wonder that I hope will encourage you in the still-not-yet places of life:

Who is this God who tells us we still must wait?
            He is the God of just a little longer.
            He is the God of more.
            He is the God who loves us enough to make us wait longer to give us more.
            I ponder this strange dichotomy as I think of my life, and Sarah’s, and the story of Lazarus in John 11. Jesus’ good friends from Bethany, Mary and Martha, sent him word saying, “Lord, the one whom you love is ill” (John 11:3). Jesus received their message in plenty of time. Plus he’d already shown that he could heal from a distance, with just a word. But he didn’t say that word. And he didn’t start for Bethany. Instead, John tells us, “Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was” (John 11:5-6). He stayed for two whole days. He stayed long enough for Lazarus to die without him.
            Jesus loved them, so he waited? He waited so that Lazarus died?
            That doesn’t seem like love. Yet it is.
            We, of course, know the rest of the story. Jesus returned to the sisters when Lazarus was in the grave. The one who was both their friend and the God of all the universe wept with Mary and showed Martha a deeper understanding of resurrection. And he showed them himself in a way they had never seen before. He told them, “I am the resurrection and the life” and revealed what that meant by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:25).
            He made them wait. He gave them more.
            They wanted healing. He gave them life.
            He loved them, so he waited.
            He loves us, and so he waits, just a little longer. And in waiting, he gives us more. Because in the wait, God is not cruel but is working. He is preparing us for the promise. He is freeing us, and he is freeing the ones we love. He waits that we may be set free.
            So when God asks us to still wait when it seems the consequences are grave, when he says “Not yet, not quite yet,” remember the power of resurrection, of new life. Remember that he waits because he loves us.
            He is the God of more than we prayed for, more than we hoped, more than we even knew we needed.
            Wait for the God of more.

If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts;
for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for.
The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience,
trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes.
--Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David