Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Afraid? Exhausted? Grumpy? Here's Hope!

Hi Friends,

Well, another crazy week here.  My kidney stones seem to have passed (no pain right now) but the X-rays were inconclusive and the doc says he's "very concerned" about me, so I'm off to get a CT scan on Tuesday, and will get the results the following Monday.  Doc wants to be sure there are no stones blocking anything and damaging my kidneys and the X-rays aren't precise enough to know that.  That with Bryan's back getting hurt, meetings every single night this week, and the regular crazy has made me, well, just a little grumpy. ;-/

Then, I happened upon this poem I wrote long ago and in it I found hope today.  I found a moment to pause, to hear Him, to remember the One who loves me and calls me to His side, calls me to be His bride.

I needed that moment.

So, if you're struggling with fear, with exhaustion, with disappointment, doubt, or just got the grumpies because life's a little too much right now, I hope you'll take a moment too, take a deep breath, read, and soak for a time in God's call to you … his beckoning, his whisper, his invitation … to be free in Him.

My King calls out to me,
His voice filled with light,
With joy undimmed by others' sin,
Shining through my night.
My burdens fall at my feet
As I follow Him
Who makes my heart beat fast and firm,
All else grows far and dim.
Freed from all but Him I love,
Freed from fears so grim,
Free to laugh and dance and play,
Free to be free in Him.
His eyes, warm and gentle,
Draw me to His side.
"Come, live and love with me.

Come, be my bride!"

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What to Do When Life Goes CRAZY

Hi Friends,

What a week here!  We started with 9 hours at the barn with the equine dentist, followed by a trip up to the chinchilla rescue to adopt 3 chinchillas, followed by a bout of kidney stones (for me - ugh, again), all day at the doctor, various sores and sicknesses, first day of Kindergarten for Jayden and first day of school for 3 of the others, first full week of high school for Bethany, and I flooded the bathroom this morning in a fluke accident, and … oh there's so much more!

All that to say … we need your prayers!

Because sometimes life just gets a little crazy.  Sometimes things don't go as planned.  Sometimes you turn on the shower, get a bloody nose, run to deal with that, the nozzle turns, and the whole bathroom floods and there are new waterspots on the ceiling in the basement.  Sometimes you're mopping up a mess instead of having a refreshing shower.

And sometimes you're in such pain you don't know up from down … and then it passes.  Sometimes it's a new day, with new challenges, and new opportunities.  Sometimes you don't know whether you should laugh or cry or just shake your head.

Because often life is nothing like you expect.  And that's when God is working.  That's when He's doing something deep.

So, I watch for these times … times like this week when everything is, well, just weird.  When I don't understand, wasn't prepared, and life threw me a curveball (actually, several of them).

Maybe you've had these times too.  Maybe there are times when things seem to "pile on" and every time you turn there's some new challenge, something else that seems to be going wrong, something you didn't want and didn't expect and don't have a contingency plan for.

Don't despair.  God has your back.  He has not forgotten you, has not abandoned you, has not looked away.  He is there.  He is with you.  And He is working.  Hang in there, friends!

And pray … for me, for each other, for God to be doing a deep work in us all … especially in weeks like this one.  Have hope, keep on, and trust Him … always, especially now.

Finally, a poem to ponder:

May I live a living life,
Not a living death,
A life that sees beyond today,
Beyond the clouds of trouble,
Past the darkness of doubt,
A life that knows the reality
Of promises yet to come true,
Of hope on new horizons,
Of prayer.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wars, Persecution, Suicide … What Do We Do With This Darkness?

Hi Friends,

What a disturbing time it is in the world.  Just this week, wars and rumors of wars.  Children beheaded and cut in two (I can barely imagine it).  Families chased from their homes, running for their lives because they won't renounce Jesus.  Nursing moms on the run, not even able to take diapers for their babies.  Robin Williams, who brought laughter to so many, takes his own life … and the laughter is silenced.

What kind of world do we live in?  I shake my head and feel my heart break.

We live in a broken world.  A world groaning for the return of its Savior.  A world that inflicts pain and hurt and hopelessness.  A world that is not what it was intended to be.

And yet . . .

It is a world that God loves, that He died to redeem, that He commissioned us to go into and make disciples, tell the good news of Him, bring hope.

But so often, I don't know how.  I find that I'm discouraged, that I'm the one fighting despair, that the darkness around me seems impenetrable.  

Sometimes I can't see how to move forward.  I cannot see at all.  So what do I do?  What can I do in this broken world, with my broken heart, with an aching soul?  

What do I do with this darkness … both within and without?  Lord, where do I go from here?

          Where Do I Go From Here?
Where do I go from here?
I often pray
For the path seems dark
And I cannot see.
Before me is fog and confusion.
Where do I go from here?
But then I take a step,
And that one step is illuminated.
Then another.
More light.
And another.
Until the path is lit,
One step at a time.

And He whispers to me, "When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).  Walk. Just walk.  One step at a time, forward.  Wrestling with the impenetrable. A little light at a time.  Make a difference.  Find hope.  Beat back the darkness.  Conquer despair … just one little bit at a time, one step, one inch, one foot … it is enough.
Will you take one single step today to bring light and hope?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Five Unusual Lessons Learned from TEC

Hi Friends,

I spent last weekend with a bunch of amazing teens learning about Jesus and His love at TEC (Teens Encounter Christ).  It was a great time (though I still haven’t caught up on my sleep!). 

Meanwhile, I’ve been pondering a few less-than-obvious things I learned during the fun-crazy-deep-moving-exhausting-energizing-incredible weekend.  Here they are:

1)  There is great value in Kickin’ with Christ.  (Which was not only the name of our soccer-themed table, but also our philosophy.)  All things – recreation, fun, laughter, enjoyment, spending time with friends – should be done with Christ so they’ll be the best times they can be! 

2)  Don’t eat bad eggs.  When you smell something funny, and then you’re told not to indulge – listen and  don’t eat those eggs.  This also works well for sin.  When something doesn’t smell right and God says “No!” listen up.  The eggs are bad.  Don’t even take a bite!  (It ‘s a shame Adam and Eve didn’t follow this philosophy.)

3)  Enjoy everything – ESPECIALLY the unexpected and when things are opposite of what you planned … that’s when God is doing deep and wonderful things! 

4)  God can even use a nudist camp skit to bring joy… find His joy even the most unlikely places!  And laugh.

5)  Let a teen teach you to dance (thank you, Hannah).  Sometimes even those of us who seem confident need a friendly hand to bring them into the fun and show them how to dance … this is true for actual dancing and also in the dance of life with God!

Thanks to everyone who made it a wonderful weekend full of God-moments, laughter, and much joy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Do You Do With Loss?

Hi Friends,

Jayden lost his very first baby tooth this week (it needed just a little help from Dad), and Joelle had to have a baby tooth pulled by the dentist because it was stuck and wouldn't come out.

And that got me thinking about loss and maturity.

Growing into maturity in Christ can be a lot like losing baby teeth.  It hurts, there can be some blood, and it's a little scary.  But those baby teeth that served us well when we were little must come out so that the adult teeth can grow in straight and healthy.  We must lose the things of our infancy to gain the things of maturity.  And sometimes we need help from our Father.  Sometimes we need help from a professional.

Loss is a part of growing up, becoming the grown-ups in Christ that we are meant to be.

What kind of loss have you suffered lately?  Could it be that God is making a space for something new, something mature, something bigger and better?

So, mourn your losses, but also look forward to God growing something new, straighter, stronger, and more mature in the empty space created by loss.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” --Philippians 3:8

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Dream to Die For . . .

Hi Friends,

I'd wanted this post for "Throwback Thursday" yesterday, but alas, the day got away from me, so here it is for Throwback Friday (which doesn't quite have the same ring to it).  Anyway, I wrote this over 20 years ago (!!!) and it still warms my heart and gives me hope and vision for today.  It's what I think Jesus is whispering in our souls.

So here you go, enjoy this word from Jesus, soak in it, and wrap yourself in the love of Christ today!

A Dream to Die For
a Message from Christ

Listen to my dream ... a dream beyond imagination, a dream of love, a dream of life, a dream that echoes though all the annals of time, from the foundation of the world through its destruction, a dream of passion and sacrifice ... yes, a dream to die for.  
In my dream, I saw you there, you, who I love more than all of my creation.  You were so beautiful, a spotless image, vibrant, free.  The sun shimmered across your radiant garments and shone bright in your face.  You took my breath away as we danced through the fields of heaven, hand in hand, our laughter ringing unhindered through the trees.  Eternity sang for us, you and I, a young couple newly in love.
And I longed for my dream to become reality.  I yearned to take you in my arms and love you.  How my heart cried out for you, but you would not hear.  I called to you, wept for you, dreamt for you, but my voice echoed back to me in the silence.  Why would you not hear me?  Why would you not share my dream?
So, I came to you, lowly, as a babe in a manger.  I became like you so that you might know me and love me.  But, it was not enough.  No, still you scorned me and turned away.  Still I dreamt for you dreams of love and laughter, dreams of freedom, of joy.  But, you would not join me.  Why would you not dance with me?
So, I healed your wounds, cured your illnesses, forgave your sins.  I walked with you and talked with you.  I showed you the dream.  Yet, you would not stay with me.  I answered your prayers, and you thanked me, and were gone.  Why did you still flee from me?  Did not my love flow freely through my hands, my voice, my heart?  Why would you not share my dream?
So, I offered myself up for you.  As I was spat upon and mocked, it was your face I held in my mind.  When I was accused, I remained silent.  For the dream, I was silent.  As the cords bit deep into my back, I whispered a prayer for you.  As blood spattered onto the cold ground, it was for you that I did not cry out.  I saw you there before me, dressed in white, pure, blameless, and beautiful.  When they stripped me and divided my clothes among them, I remembered the dream.  But, still it was not enough.  You cried out, "Crucify him!  Crucify him!"  Though I bled for you, you would not share my dream.
When the nails were driven deep, all I saw was you.  The price was not too high for such a beautiful bride, the love of my life.  Do you know how much I loved you then?  I can still feel the piercing pain as the spikes drove deep and blood coursed onto bare flesh.  Yet, it was not enough.  You scorned me still.  Why would you not dance with me?  Did not the nails prove my love for you?
So, I dreamt again of you, and loved you.  I saw you there, as I hung above the earth.  All I wanted was to give you my love.  All I had left was my life.  I gave it for you.
Yes, I had a dream, a dream of you and I, together forever, a dream of love, of joy, of eternity.  So, I spread my arms and died.  

It was enough.  Share my dream.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is God Holding You Back?

Hi Friends,

This is RODEO week here in Salinas, and as I am getting ready to enjoy the rodeo festivities, I'm remembering something God taught me a couple years ago when I carried a flag in the Pageant of the Flags for the rodeo opening ceremonies.

This year, I'm not carrying a flag in the rodeo, but I am at a place where I need to remember again the lesson of God holding me back, and what that might mean in the kingdom.  I need to remember the lesson of my beautiful horse, Jewel.  Maybe you do, too . . .

With Flags Flying

The American flag rustled above me as I urged my horse forward.  I tightened my grip on the flagpole, straightened my elbow, and listened to the first strains of the national anthem filling the rodeo grounds.
My horse, Jewel, edged sideways.  The giant flag, secured to the holder in my stirrup, flapped in the breeze.  Ahead of me, a mare stomped her foot, the loudspeaker squeaked, the crowd stood with cowboy hats over their hearts.
The music shifted.  I adjusted my flag.  The lead horse broke into a lope in front of me.  I followed.
Slowly, we loped along the back fence, turned toward the crowd, and made a perfect circle in time with the horse in front of us.  Above me, the stars and stripes of the flag whipped out full and glorious.  Below me, the rhythmic thud of hooves impacted the dark earth.
The music quickened.  So did Jewel.  She strained agains the reins.  I could almost hear her thoughts: Faster, faster, we have to catch up! 
I held her back, tightening the reins, releasing them, checking her up gently but firmly so that she kept the proper pace.  
She snorted.  I persevered.  Because I knew the pattern.  Two slow circles, then turn and stop in a line, facing the crowd as the flags from all the horses flew in unison.  
It would be beautiful to watch, the horses loping in time with each other, the spacing perfect, the flags flying in a pattern as the music soared.
Beautiful to see, but to Jewel, not much fun to do.  She liked to run.  She wanted to sprint down the rail as fast as her legs would go.  She didn’t want slow circles.  And she certainly didn’t want to stop and stand, waiting, going nowhere.  
She didn’t like it.  
We did it anyway.  
Two circles, followed by standing quietly in a line with the flags blowing in the wind as the music ended.  Jewel snorted.  She pulled at the reins.  She flapped her bottom lip.  
And she obeyed. 
The crowd cheered.  Cameras clicked.  And the flag above me was displayed in all its beauty.
As we exited the track, I thought about how I’m a lot like Jewel.  I want to run straight out toward my goal.  I don’t want to be held back, I don’t want to stand still.  I don’t like it when God pulls back the reins.  
But God knows the pattern for my life.  And sometimes he wants me in the slow circle position.  He wants me to lope quietly behind the lead horse.  He wants me to let his banner fly above me in all its beauty.
And like Jewel, I often snort, chomp at my bit, and tug on the reins.  I flap my lips.  I want to run faster.  I want race along to the end.  I don’t want to follow at all.
I certainly don’t want to wait.  
But even when the waiting doesn’t make sense.  Even when I don’t understand why God is tightening the reins, I need to obey.  I need to lope.  And stand.  And try not fidget. 
Because God has a pattern in mind.  And I want to run it well, beautifully, just like Jewel.  I want his flag to unfurl over my life and be displayed in all its wonder.  
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
To run the pattern that God has marked out for me, sometimes I have to slow down.  Sometimes I have to wait.  I have to trust.  And sometimes it will seem that I am going in circles, or not going anywhere at all.
Those are the times that I have to remember that a great cloud of witnesses in heaven are watching, their cowboy hats over their hearts.  If I can trust, if I can wait, if I can follow the pattern that God has chosen for me, his banner of love will fly full of beauty and wonder above me.  

The pattern I run with others will bring joy to the crowds, to the glory of the God who guides me on the ride of a lifetime.