Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

When God Calls You to Deeper Waters

Hi Friends,

I've been thinking lately about this last year for me and how it'ss been filled with so much change, difficulties, and movement to new places in my life. And I think that God is calling me to deeper places with Him. And maybe He's calling you, too, to swim deeper with Him. But sometimes, that can be a little scary. So, I thought I'd share the following swimming story, for you and for me. This is a story written from my husband's perspective, so the "I" is him. Hopefully, this story will be helpful to you as it is being to me. Here it is:

Small arms squeezed my neck so hard I thought I would choke. A small body shivered and shook against me. Her grip grew tighter.

I sighed and waded into shallower water. Waves lapped the sides of pool as other kids swam and leapt and turned somersaults in the water. Shouts of laughter rippled over the pool’s surface. I pulled gently at my daughter’s arm. “Loosen up, sweetheart. I won’t let go of you.”

“Nooooo.” Bethany’s whimper grew louder as she dug her fingers deeper into my skin.

“Swimming is fun. But you’ve got to let go of Daddy.”

“I’m s-s-scared.” Her teeth chattered even though the water was a balmy eighty degrees.

I swallowed and attempted to loosen her grip enough for me to breathe. But Bethany only grabbed harder, not because she loved me or wanted to be close to me, but only because she was afraid. This was our third swimming lesson and she still wasn’t brave enough to let go. I reached for her goggles and put them on her, adjusting them so they fit just right. “Okay, are you ready to try?”

“I d-d-don’t know.”

I looked into her goggle-clad eyes. “You have to trust me. I’m right here. Trust me.”

She took a deep breath.

“Trust me,” I repeated again.

This time, Bethany nodded. “Okay, Daddy.” Her grip loosened a little bit. Then a little bit more. And a little more.

I sidled toward the edge of the pool, then took her hands and placed them on the edge. Next, I stepped back until I stood three feet away. “Push off and swim to me. You can do it.”

Bethany studied the distance.

I reached out with both hands.

With a push and a splash, she was in the water on her own, then in my arms again.

I laughed. “You did it!”

She laughed back. “That was fun!”

“You want to go under the water?”

Her brows bunched in a frown.

I smiled. “Trust me.”

Bethany straightened her shoulders. “I’m ready.”

And down we went. Once. Twice. Three times. By the end of the lesson, Bethany had discovered a whole new world of fun and adventure. She could go underwater and look around. She could “sit” on the bottom of the pool for a whole three seconds. And she could kick her way from the edge all the way to me without being afraid. Swimming had ceased to be scary and instead was a joy. For an hour we swam and played and enjoyed every minute. Finally, it was time to leave.

“That was great, Daddy,” Bethany exclaimed as she clamored out of the pool. “Can we come back tomorrow? And the day after that? And the day after that?”

I chuckled. “We’ll come back soon. I promise.”


I grinned as I watched her scamper into the locker room. What a difference between the shivering, shaking girl who had climbed into the pool and the happy, exuberant girl who had climbed out. And it was all because she had decided put aside fear and instead trust her Daddy.

In some ways, my life with God is not much different from Bethany’s swim lessons. Romans 8:15 (NIV) says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” When God calls me to try new things, to stretch past my comfort zone, to step out into the unknown, it’s easy for me, too, to cling to Him out of fear. But God doesn’t want me to grab onto Him because I’m afraid. Rather, He wants me to trust Him enough to let go of fear and embrace all the adventures He has for me. He wants me to learn to live in joy and freedom, to learn how to swim with Him.

And just like Bethany, I need to loosen my grip and trust God to be there if the waters get too deep.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Must Read: BOO HUMBUG by Rene Gutteridge

Hi Friends,

Today I want to tell you a bit about a book I just loved. Definitely one of my favorites of the year (maybe even THE favorite). It's Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge. I endorsed the book a few months ago, and here's what I had to say at the time:

What fun! I enjoyed Boo Humbug from the first page to the last. With characters that come alive and a storyline full of clever turns, it had me chuckling, cheering, and even reacing for a tissue at the end. I think jI'll have to start a new Christmas tradition - reading Rene Gutteride's Boo Humbug. I loved it!

So, I hope you'll pick up this one. You won't regret it. This will make a wonderful addition to your holiday reading! (Note: You don't have to have read the other Boo books to enjoy this one . . . but you may want to go back and read them once you read this one). Here's more about it:

Readers have come to love the eccentric characters from Skary, Indiana, in Rene Gutteridge’s popular Boo! series. Now, in Boo, Humbug! they’re back – and they’re stirring up a large amount of holiday havoc.

It’s Christmastime in Skary, and the town is planning an original production of A Christmas Carol with a horror spin. As showtime approaches, things go very awry for director Lois Stepaphanopolis. She panics when she discovers that her marketing director loathes Christmas and that the audience has been promised not Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but the real Christmas story. Can the actors pull off the improv of all improvs and convince their community to embrace the true meaning of the Christmas season?

Boo, Humbug! offers readers a delightful glimpse into small town, community life with heartwarming humor and winsome characters. And in the end, the true meaning of Christmas shines out bright and clear, in a decidedly un-Skary way.

And here's a little about Rene:

Rene Gutteridge is the author of 10 novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, The Occupational Hazards series and My Life as a Doormat, a Women of Faith selection for 2006. She has been published over 30 times as a playwright, and holds a degree in screenwriting, graduating magna cum laude from Oklahoma State University. Rene is married to Sean, a musician, and they have two young children. They make their home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

To buy, here's an Amazon link:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Too Busy? Going Crazy? Read This!

Hi Friends!

I spoke last week at a MOPS group, and one of the things I talked about is finding those things that make you crazy, that turn you into that bulging-eyed crazy woman that scares the kids. And in preparing for that talk, I realized that what makes me into crazy-mom is constant hurry (are you seeing a trend here – yep, I know I just posted about being too busy a couple weeks ago!). What frays my nerves is trying to squeeze in too many things into too little time. And as I’ve been seeing that I’ve been falling into that trap again lately, I’m reminded of this story that happened a couple years ago:

“This is crazy!” I threw the papers onto the table and dropped back to my chair. “I know I said I would critique this article, but I can’t.”

Bryan strolled into the room with a mug in his hand. The smell of coffee permeated the air. “Isn’t that the last one?” He sat on the couch and motioned to the papers now scattered across the tabletop.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I was supposed to be reviewing articles for a writer’s seminar the next day. I’d finished the other fourteen, but not this one. I had read only a page before tossing it onto the table. “Yes, it’s the last one. But still . . .”

He shrugged and sipped the coffee. “So, just do it and get it over with.”

“I know.” I sighed. “I don’t have time to waste. I need to get it done so I can study my Greek, write that paper, pack my bag for tomorrow, feed the baby, and fold the laundry.”

Bryan raised his eyebrows. “Well, you’d better get to it, then.”

“I tried.” I peeked at the article through one eye. “Have you seen it?”

Bryan set down his mug and gathered the papers. He glanced at them. “Oh, wow.”


“There aren’t any paragraphs.”

I rubbed my temples. “Single-spaced, small type, no paragraphs, tiny margins. It exhausts me to just look at it.”

Bryan tapped the papers together, then handed them back to me. “White space.”


“There isn’t any white space. People don’t like to read things that don’t have white space.”
Of course. I knew that. “So what should I do?”

Bryan stood up. “Tell the person to put in white space next time. That should be the first thing on your critique list.” He started toward the door to the kitchen, then paused and tossed a final comment over his shoulder. “By the way, that article isn’t the only thing that lacks white space around here.”

“What do you mean?”

He didn’t answer. The door swung shut as he disappeared beyond it.

Silly man. I shook my head and forced myself to focus on the tight print before me. A few minutes later, I found an error and clicked my red pen. But there was no space to make a correction. Further on, I would have made a comment, but again, I had no room. The lack of white space not only made me tired, but it didn’t allow for the improvements I wanted to suggest either.

I finally finished the article, made some comments on the back of one of the sheets, then turned to my to-do list. The length of it made my head spin.

White space.

I looked at the list again -- activities crammed together, things to do, tasks to accomplish. I frowned. Was this what Bryan was talking about? Maybe my life lacked white space in the same way the article had. Single-spaced, no paragraphs, small margins. No wonder I was exhausted.

I glanced at the laundry, my Greek book, and my half-packed bag. Then, I looked at my Bible, lying on the footstool near the couch. Just yesterday I had read in Leviticus about the Sabbath and a list of festivals that God prescribed for his people. At the time, I had skimmed over the reading, thinking it had little to do with my life. But now, as I pondered the idea of the Sabbath and the festivals, I saw in them a rhythm to the life God ordered for Israel, a rhythm that included breaks, rests, and celebration. A rhythm that had plenty of white space.

As I picked up my Bible and placed it into my bag, I began to understand the wisdom of God’s command for rest, and the foolishness of my tight-print, no paragraph life. I, too, needed space for my eyes to rest, room in my life for direction from God, empty places where He could write His comments, suggestions, and corrections on my heart. I needed time to rest, and listen, and simply “be.”

Since then, I’ve learned that white space is as important as words, for there is where God speaks into the silence.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Opinions? My New Cover!

Hi Friends,

Today, in lieu of a story with a spiritual point, I was hoping to get your opinion of the new cover for BEYOND THE NIGHT. As you maybe remember, Beyond the Night will be released next May, on May 20th, to be exact. So, I just received the approved cover from Multnomah, my publisher. And here it is! Soooo, what do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

Beyond the night is my best book yet. I just love this one! It's one of my new "Love Stories with a Twist!" with a groovy 70's backdrop, a girl who's going blind, and a whopper of an ending. For more info, go to my website and click on the cover image there on the right hand column.

In other news, I spoke yesterday at my local MOPS group. I enjoyed telling the moms what I'm learning about Being Mommy and Staying Sane. We talked about how to keep your cool in the craziness of kids, and keep focused on your quintessential goals of being a good mom.

So, let me know what you think of the cover. And don't forget to leave a comment on the Amy Grant blog below to be entered to win a copy of that book.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When Life's Too Busy

Hi Friends!

This week has been crazy. I just finished my substantive edits for Beyond the Night, my next novel that’ll come out in May. I’ve got two articles due Monday, another article I’m working on, a talk at MOPS on Tuesday, my next book (Faces in the Sand) that I’m falling behind on, laundry and dishes, diapers to change, rooms to clean, and a funeral to go to on Friday.

A funeral. That makes me stop and think. Life is more than to-do lists and deadlines. Life is not something to be accomplished. It is both God’s gift to us and ours to Him.

And today, as I think about busyness and life, I’m remembering back to when I was a kid. I’m remembering the story of the rock. It goes like this:

“Race you to the rock!” my friend Lisa cried as she sprinted down the trail toward the stream at the lower end of our property.

I laughed and followed, my seven-year-old legs pumping like twin pistons over the dirt path before me.

In minutes we reached the rock, a massive, gray boulder that stood like a giant castle over the stream’s edge. Panting and giggling, we flung ourselves across the lichen-covered surface. I pressed my cheek into a rough spot on the rock and grinned. “You win.”

Lisa climbed to the top of the boulder and looked south. “Mr. Winters is picking persimmons today.”

I scrambled up next to her. “Hey, the Johnson’s cow finally had that calf.” I pointed toward a field to the west.

Then, Lisa and I settled back and gazed into the blue, afternoon sky. Later, we would play princesses-in-the-castle, pretend we were riding an elephant across the plains of Africa, or dangle our feet in the water and dream of what it would be like to be mermaids in the ocean. We could do anything, be anything, on the rock.

To the rest of the world, our rock may have seemed like an ordinary boulder, but to us, that stone was the center of the universe. From there, we could see the world. All things were possible. We were safe. We were free to dream. We were prone to laugh. From there, we tasted a bit of heaven.

Today, when I think about the image of God as the Rock (as in Psalm 18, 78, and 95), I often think of that boulder by the stream. I realize that when I am centered in Him, everything becomes clear – I can see my world. When I rest on Him, I need not be afraid. I can dangle my feet in the rough currents of life and not be swept away. I can dare to dream, hope, play. When He is the center of my life - the one I look to for security, the one I race to when I want to see the world around me as it really is, life can have the fullness God always intended, without the craziness that is not of Him.

But I remember something else about my special boulder. Something that even now makes me sad. For as I grew older, I visited the boulder less and less. Lisa and I raced to the mall instead of the rock. We jabbered on the phone instead of sharing dreams by the water. We did our homework, made our plans, and no longer had time to play. I forgot the feeling of warm stone on my back, of swishing my toes in the cold current.

The boulder was still there, still as majestic, still as strong. But I ignored it. I was too busy, too grown up, too involved with my own goals and plans. Spring came. The stream ran fast and cold, but I didn’t stop to dip my toes in the water. Summer followed, but I didn’t lie on the warm stone and contemplate the heavens. Autumn brought leaves of orange and gold, but no games of knights or safaris. In winter, the leaves dried and blew away, but I didn’t even notice that somehow, somewhere, I had lost something precious.

So this week, as my life is crowded with appointments, projects, deadlines, responsibilities, and piles of laundry that seem to never grow smaller, I’m remembering the boulder. And I can almost hear God whispering, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. . . Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." (Isaiah 44:8, NIV). It’s as if He’s saying to me, “Come and play, come and rest in me.” He’s calling me back to the center, back to the Rock of my salvation.

Then, I can remember the joy, the freedom, that can only be found on the Rock. I pray for God to be the center from which I live the rest of my life - my work, my family life, my hopes, dreams, and, yes, even my play. I pray that I can laugh and cry out, “Race you to the Rock!”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Renewing Your WOW in the Cross

Hi Friends!

Ever feel like you've heard the story of Jesus on the cross one too many times? Maybe it seems like old news, instead of good news. Maybe it's lost its punch. Maybe it's lost its WOW. That happened to me. But my daughter's wonder rekindled my own. It happened like this:

It started just like any other night. Bethany grabbed her sea otter toy, snuggled deep into her blankets, and look up at me with smiling brown eyes. I settled next to her and picked up the first of the bedtime stories I would read that night. A dancing hippo shone from the book’s cover. “I like that one,” Bethany mumbled through the two fingers she had stuck in her mouth.

So, I read, she wiggled, and the short pile of books soon dwindled to nothing. Then, came our favorite part of the bedtime ritual. I reached for the Bible story book on her dresser, thinking I’d read about Zaccheus or perhaps blind Bartimaeus or the woman at the well.
But just as my fingers touched the brightly colored surface of the book, Bethany sat up and tapped my arm. “You tell me about Jesus tonight. Tell me about Jesus on the cross.”

“Ahhhh,” I murmured as I turned from the dresser and tucked the blankets around Bethany’s chin. “Jesus on the cross.”

“Please, Mommy.”

I smiled down at her. Then, I reached over, dimmed the light, and began. I told her about how the soldiers hit Jesus, and hurt him, and spat on him, and pushed an awful crown of thorns on his head. I told her about how they made him carry his own cross up to the hill called Golgotha, and how they laid him on the cross and spread out his arms, and nailed him there.

“Did it hurt very much?” she asked, just as she always did whenever I got to this place in the story.

I brushed the hair back from her forehead with my fingertips. “Very much.”

“They not supposed to do that.” She frowned.

“But they did.”

“And then what happened?”

My voice grew quiet. “They lifted the cross high in the air, and the sky turned black.”

“Oooo,” she breathed.

“Then, Jesus died, and the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

“That’s sad, Mommy.” She clutched her sea otter toy even tighter.

I nodded, then told her about how they took Jesus down from the cross and put him in the tomb for one day . . . two days . . . three days.

She waved her fingers in the air and counted the days with me.

“Then –“ I paused.

Bethany caught her breath.

“The ground shook.” I rattled her headboard. “The stone rolled away, and—” I stopped.

As always, Bethany finished the story in her loudest voice. “Him not die anymore! Him risen!”
We laughed together as I hugged her and whispered in her ear, “And that is the most wonderful, incredible, amazing, important thing that has ever happened in the whole wide world from the beginning of time until now.”

Her eyes grew wide. She snuggled deeper into her blankets, and said the one word that I’ll never forget. “Wow.”

Wow. And somehow that simple word stuck in my heart and I saw the story of Jesus through her eyes. I saw the wonder, the mystery, the beauty. I saw how much it cost for God to make me His own.

And in that moment, God rekindled in me the wow of the gospel. Suddenly, it was new, amazing, and wonderful. How had I forgotten the awe? How had it become “old news?”
I laid back on the bed next to her and looked at the ceiling. “Wow,” I whispered. “Wow, wow, wow.”

Bethany sighed and rubbed her small hand over my arm. “You tell me again, Mommy? Tell me about Jesus on the cross.”

“Of course, sweetheart. I’ll tell you as often as you want to hear it.”

And I do, with a silent prayer that neither of us will ever forget the “wow” of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

(NOTE: Remember to stop back every week to read something that will hopefully be helpful to you in renewing your WOW of God. I post this type of thing on Wednesdays!)