Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Carving & The Cross

Hi Friends!

What do you think of carving pumpkins? Some say jack-o-lanterns invite evil spirits, others believe they're harmless fun. So what should we do? What should we believe? And what does pumpkin carving have to do with the Cross??

This week, I've discovered that my theology of pumpkin carving (bet you never thought you'd read those words together in a sentence! ;-)) reflects much of my theology in the rest of life.

This Monday some friends (and here they are in the pictures -- Bill & Patti Risinger) came over and helped our girls carve pumpkins. What fun!

And I found as we cut and scooped and laughed and enjoyed that I don't care about the pagan history of jack-o-lanterns not because it doesn't matter but because there's nothing I like better than redeeming an activity in God's light. There's something so like our God in the idea of taking what was once meant for evil and turning it into a good and beautiful thing. That's what God specializes in. And that's what I love specializing in too.

After all, it was our God who made a instrument of execution (the cross) into a symbol of redemption, freedom, and love. That's just what God does - he takes what was meant for bad and transforms it. (See I told you pumpkin carving and the cross would have something in common!)

So, for me, there's something extra good about making pumpkin carving a time of fun and enjoyment with friends in the Lord. A time of strengthening friendships and family relationships, a time of laughter and good fun -- the kind of time that delights God and reflects His Kingdom.
The Bible tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above, given to us by God. Every good gift.
So, I've decided to not live life in fear of evil, but to always be looking for ways to redeem situations, events, traditions, etc. for the glory of God. I want to fill life with Godly joy and make all beauty, all fun -- every good thing -- into something that reflects God's glory.

So, when you're thinking about pumpkins, Halloween, and candy corn this week, think about how those things can be part of the wonder of God's love for you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trivia & the Book of Job

Hi Friends,

I had a fun baby shower this past weekend (thanks to all who came!), and one of the games was titled "Who Knows Mommy Best" - you know, one of those games where you try to guess trivia facts about a person. So, I thought it would be fun to post some of the questions and answers here, and then talk a bit about Job - you'll see why. So, here ya go:

Marlo’s favorite M&M’s: Peanut Butter

Marlo’s favorite color: Purple

Marlo’s favorite actor: Russell Crowe

Name of Marlo’s first book: Cry Freedom

Marlo’s First Car: Toyota Celica

Marlo’s favorite class in seminary: Greek Exegesis

Marlo’s favorite book of the Bible: Job

JOB - ah ha! I don't know anyone else who lists Job as their favorite book in the Bible (see, you knew I was a little crazy ;-)), but well, there you have it. And you know why? Because at its heart, Job is about witnessing the wonder of God. It's like this:

Here's a bit of a summary:

You've got a guy who God’s so pleased with that he brags about his righteousness. Job is the shining example of what a person ought to be. But Satan doesn’t like that one bit, so he wants to test Job, saying Job will curse God if things go wrong.

God believes in Job. And so, Job’s children are killed, his crops fail, he loses everything except his wife who is not at all helpful. Then he gets sores all over his body, sits in an ash heap, and scratches his sores with a broken piece of pottery. Lovely, isn’t it? The ash heap -- a great place to witness the wonder of God.

Then his friends show up. They mourn silently with him for seven days. They should have stayed silent. But they didn’t. Instead, they’re going to tell Job why he deserves all this. Problem is, Job knows he didn’t do any of those things they’re accusing him of. He knows he didn’t do anything to deserve all this.

The friends, of course, aren’t convinced, so you get thirty-some chapters of “Did-too/Did-not” in poetry. (This is where the book of Job gets its bad rap.) And Job crying out to God, “I don’t get it. Why is this happening to me??”

We've all been there, haven't we? That place where life doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem fair, and is just hard. The “good grief, what did I ever do to deserve this??” places.

And then, it happens. After all those chapters. God shows up in the whirlwind. God Himself comes with the answer. Now, we have to assume that God’s answer is an answer, that He’s been listening in all along and knows what’s been going on. And if it’s Job’s answer, it’s also ours …

But what an answer! It's not, "Well, let me explain to you, Job, you see, you’re such a great guy I knew you could do it. You could stand up to Satan. All right, buddy" with a pat on the back. Nope, God doesn’t give a clue as to anything that went on in the heavens in the first two chapters of the book. Job remains forever ignorant of that.

And here's the key:

God doesn’t answer “WHY” at all. He answers “WHO.” And what a WHO! A glimpse of grand and intimate God. A God who made the stars to sing and also let the wild donkey go free. A God who cuts the path for a thunderstorm and is also there when the mountain goat gives birth. A God who holds the constellations together and also feeds the ravens. That is a God of wonder.

The point is: Job shows us that the answer to “Why” is no good to us. It’s what we cry out to know, and yet there’s so little value in it. It doesn’t change anything. We don’t find the God's wonder in the answer to “why.”

But “who” is a whole different thing. Seeing God for who He is, glimpsing Him in new, wondrous ways, having our eyes opened to the reality of HIM. That’s a gift. And that changes everything.

That’s why I don’t think God is being mean in chapters 38-39. He's not saying “you peon you, get out of my way” (besides, we know how highly God values Job from the book’s beginning). Rather, God is coming to Job to say, “My friend, you have no idea … let me give you a glimpse of the wonder you’ve never seen. That’s the gift Job is given in chapter 38-39.

It’s the answer to things like when life isn’t fair, when health is bad, when we grieve, when loss happens, when the life we lead has lost its luster … day to day, day after day, all our lives. The answer is the wonder of God, the reality of who He is.

So, you see, that's why I love Job ... because we glimpse God and find the answer to life's questions is not found in "why" but in "who." And somehow that makes all the difference.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

Hi Friends,

I've got a fun new novel to tell you about for this week -- Bon Appétit by my friend Sandra Byrd. So, here's the info:

In this sequel to Let Them Eat Cake, Byrd again entertains with descriptions of delectable food and, this time, with exquisite details of France as well. Foodies will delight in this novel, and anyone who adores romance will warm to the story. It's easy to identify with Lexi's struggles in life, because they mirror so much of what everyone experiences, no matter what their age.” Romantic Times

Lexi Stuart is risking it all. Saying au revoir to the security of home, her job, and could-be boyfriend Dan, Lexi embarks on a culinary adventure in France to fulfill her life dream of becoming a pastry chef. As she settles into her new home in the village of Presque le Chateau to study and work in a local bakery, her optimism meets resistance in the seemingly crusty nature of the people and culture around her. Determined to gain her footing, she finds a church, meets a new friend, and makes the acquaintance of a child named Celine–as well as Celine’s attractive, widowed father, Philippe. As Lexi lives her dream, the only thing she has to do is choose from the array in life’s patisser ie display window. Lexi discovers that as she leans more on God the choices become a little clearer– and making them, well, c’est la vie!

Bon Appétit is the sequel to this year’s Christy Award finalist, Let Them Eat Cake.

Hungry? Enter to win a gourmet baking basket www.sandrabyrd.com

To purchase book, please visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073286 Merci!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's All About Love . . . Notes from Women's Retreat

Hi Friends,

Well, I'm back from speaking at the SVCC Women's Retreat this past weekend. What a fun, enriching time! My favorite parts were watching women interact and grow deeper through the activities we did for each talk. What a great group of women! Thanks so much to all of you who had been praying for me (I'm happy to report that I did fine, despite being so pregnant!) and for the time at retreat. God was there and moving in lives and hearts. It was sooo neat to see and be a part of all that.

Some main points:
-- You can't unwrap the wonder of God with white-knuckled fists clutching your own dreams and plans.
-- The God who made the stars to sing also let the wild donkey go free . . . Our God is both grand and intimate.
-- That grand and intimate God is the One who loves you enough to give everything for you, to make you His own. God's main focus for everything that happens in your life is to draw you closer to Him.

For part of the third point, I told the following story from Mark 5. I thought I'd include it here for all you wonderful blog readers:

(MARK 5:25)

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was having that time of month. Except for her, it didn’t stop after a week, or two weeks, a month, a year. She’d been bleeding for twelve long years. And where she lived, that bleeding wasn’t only unpleasant and exhausting, it made her dirty, untouchable. She used to have friends, but they’re all married now, with children. She has no husband, no kids. Others have a nice home, family. She’s spent all her money on doctors and treatments that didn’t help. Everything she once hoped for seems impossible now. And she’s so tired from the loss of blood, the loss of hope, the loss of everything.

But then, something happens. She hears about a man who can heal with a touch. It seems crazy. But maybe, just maybe . . . there’s a commotion on the street. A crowd. A name. Jesus. The one from Nazareth. He’s the one she heard about! She sneaks out the door, follows behind the crowd. Far enough back so she won’t touch anyone, won’t make them unclean too.

But she’s got to get to the one called Jesus. Maybe he won’t touch someone dirty like her. But maybe she can touch him. Just a little, on the edge of his cloak. Maybe that’s all it would take. She winds through the crowd, inching forward. Bit by bit. There he is! Closer. Closer. All she wants in the world is to be healed. For the bleeding to stop. For life to have some hope again. If only she could be healed.

She reaches out. Her fingers brush the edge of his cloak. And… it happens. She feels it, senses it, in every part of her. The bleeding stops. The anemia is gone. She’s whole, healthy, clean. She sinks back into the crowd. She has everything she wanted.

But wait.

Jesus stops. Turns. Seeks her out. He looks at her, talks to her, calls her “daughter.”

Why? She already has everything she came for. She’s healed.

--For her, healing is enough.
--But for him, he wants more.

Because for her, and for you, FIXING you isn’t enough. God wants relationship. Connection, interaction…that’s love.

That’s what’s valuable to God (when we see Jesus, we see God … whoever has seen me has seen the Father.)

That’s the lens through which we need to see everything in our lives. What happens in your life isn’t about getting you to do the right thing, choose the right path, get your problems fixed. It’s about God and relationship. It’s about Him wanting to be close to you because He loves you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Retreat Preparations & Kids Sayings About God

Hi Friends,

Well, I'm speaking at the women's retreat this weekend for Salinas Valley Community Church. We're going to be focusing on the renewing our wonder in a breath-taking and vivid God. So, I'll be talking about God's wonder is often hidden and needs to be unwrapped, then about the awe of who God really is, followed by the wonder of His amazing love for each of us. Please pray that God will reveal His wonder to the women there and touch their hearts and lives. And please be praying for my 7.5-month-pregnant self as I share the messages God has shown me. May I not succumb to pregnancy-brain!

Anyway, for one of the talks, I'll be sharing a bit about how kids view God, and I thought it would be fun to share some of those quotes with you here. Some are from my friend, Dandi Daley Mackall's 1995 book "Kids Say the Greatest Things About God," others are from different internet sites. So, here some are for you to enjoy ... and while you do, ask yourself: What did I think of God when I was a kid? What do I think of Him now? And how can I capture more of the wonder of a God who can do anything, be anything, and loves me?

Here ya go:


God is really, really, really old—like 23. But he never looks a day older every time you see him.

God has many kinds of hair, but he keeps them short.

God is as far as numbers go. He’s too old for age.

God watches over us all the time. He has lots of eyes—like spiders.

In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. Now he just does people.

He has a gray beard. He’s at least a hundred years old. That’s why it’s gray. Used to be brown.

He looks a lot like Jesus, but with a mustache.


I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool. - Eugene

Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident? – Norma

Are you really invisible or is that just a trick? – Lucy

How do You get those leaves to grow back onto the trees? And how do You keep grass growing back, no matter how many times it gets cut off? Now that’s something (David, age 8)

I don’t think anybody could be a better God. Well, I just want you to know but I am not just saying that because you are God. - Charles

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bundle of Joy by Robin Lee Hatcher

Hi Friends,

Here's a fun book for me to be recommending to you for this week (given that I'm pregnant too!). It's BUNDLE OF JOY by Robin Lee Hatcher. Here's a bit about it:

by Robin Lee Hatcher
October, Steeple Hill mass market romance
Alicia Harris says she's happily married and expecting a baby—but only the last part is true. She can't bear to disappoint her grandfather by telling him she's two months away from single motherhood. Then Grandpa Roger, still recovering from a heart attack, drops in unexpectedly to spend the holidays with Alicia and her husband, and to protect her beloved grandfather from unnecessary stress, Alicia needs to find a fill-in—fast. Childhood friend Joe Palmero fits the bill and is willing to play along. Still, the longer they spend playing their parts, the closer Alicia and Joe come to discovering what love, faith and marriage truly mean.
About Robin:
Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 55 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

For more information about Robin and her books, visit her web site at http://www.robinleehatcher.com/ and her Write Thinking Blog at http://robinlee.typepad.com/. You can find her on Facebook at http://www.new.facebook.com/pages/Robin-Lee-Hatcher/84324290175#/pages/Robin-Lee-Hatcher/84324290175

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

If Marriage were an F150 . . .

Hi Friends!

Today is my 20th anniversary (yay!). So, in honor of my wonderful hubby, I thought I'd share a story from his POV about marriage, wives, trucks, ducks, and wise words for couples everywhere. So, here ya go!

If Marriage Were a F150

Bryan Schalesky as told to Marlo Schalesky

I gripped the steering wheel, clenched my teeth, then turned the ignition key in my Ford F150. Sput, sput, vroooom. I smiled as the engine purred like a contented tiger. Who needed those guys at the repair shop? With a little hard work, I could fix anything!

My confidence ebbed as I sauntered into the garage and heard half-stifled sobs coming from inside the house. I hurried in to find my wife sitting on the edge of the tub. A pregnancy test stick lay on the counter. Negative. Again.

I rubbed my hand over the back of my neck. “It’ll work next time.”

My wife didn’t even look at me.

“We just need to try something different.”

Marlo sniffed and glared up at me. “This isn’t like one of your broken down cars. You can’t just turn a wrench and make it work!”

I raked my fingers through my hair. Infertility ought to be like a Ford F150. Just find the right tools, turn the proper bolts, replace the correct parts, and everything would work again, just as it should. But none of my solutions seemed to be what Marlo wanted to hear. They never were.

My frustration followed me into the weekend when I went duck hunting with my friend, Pete.

The air hung wet and cold around us as we trudged to the duck blind, set out our decoys, and settled out of sight.

Soon, the fog bank glowed with the first morning light. But no ducks appeared. We blew our duck calls. Still, no ducks. The precious first moments of the day slipped by. Still, nothing.

Two long hours passed before Pete cleared his throat and broke the silence. “So, how ya doing with that infertility stuff?”

I grunted. “What made you think of that?”

Pete sighed and stared into the sky. “Seems like it’s a lot like duck hunting. Conditions seem right. You set out your decoys and blow your duck calls. But there’s nothing you can do to make the birds come in.”

My scowl deepened. “There’s got to be something I can do.”

“I suppose you’ve been trying to be Mr. Fix-It.” Pete shook his head, and silence descended. A half hour later, he spoke again. “You remember the story of Lazarus?”

“Which one?”

“Where Lazarus dies and his sister Mary cries at Jesus’ feet.”

“John 11?”

“Yep. And you know what Jesus did?”

“Raised Lazarus from the dead.” My chin jutted up. “He fixed it.”

“But what did he do first?”

“I dunno.”

“He wept. Shortest verse in the Bible. ‘Jesus wept.’”


“Taught me a lot about how to care for my wife, those two words.”

“I’m not the weeping type.”

“It’s not about crying, it’s about showing you care.”


“Think about it.” Pete smiled at me then tromped down to another part of the pond.

I settled into the reeds and studied the cloud patterns above me. Jesus wept . . . If it were me, I wouldn’t have taken time to weep. “Don’t cry! I’ll make it better!” I’d have said. Was that so wrong?

I wrapped one arm around my knee and turned my thoughts to duck hunting. Pete was right about one thing - on days like today, when I couldn’t bring the birds in, I didn’t run around trying to fix it. Instead, I waited. I hunched down in the reeds, watched, and listened. Maybe that’s all I needed to do with Marlo too. Maybe it wasn’t about the tears, but about caring enough to share the pain. To watch, wait, and listen.

That night when I returned home, I took my wife in my arms and held her close. I don’t remember exactly what I said to her, but it went something like this, “I’m sorry I can’t fix our infertility problem. But, one thing I do promise. I will be with you through it all. And, I love you more than anything.”

Tears came to her eyes. She leaned her head against my chest, and I could see her smile.

“That’s what I need most,” she murmured.

And somewhere in the distance, I thought I heard the faint call of a mallard duck.