Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Praying for the “Have’s” When You’re a “Have-Not”

Hi Friends,

I'd like to share an article that I wrote for Radiant Magazine that many people are finding useful as they encounter situations where others have a type of life situation that they're longing for and yet don't have. This article is about infertility, but the principles are applicable to any have/have-not situation. I hope you'll find it useful too. So, here you go:

On the Infertility Journey
Praying for the “Have’s” When You’re a “Have-Not”

by Marlo Schalesky

Babies. Everywhere. In TV commercials, in strollers at the mall, in the arms of the woman in front of me at church, on the cover of my favorite magazine. It was enough to make me scream. Not that I didn’t like babies. I loved them -- so much so that my husband and I had been trying for years to have one of our own. But instead, all we got were endless trips to the infertility clinic, tests, procedures, more tests, and more procedures followed by phone calls from the nurse that too often began with “I’m sorry, but . . .”

I’d gotten another of those calls just that afternoon. So, as the sun began to slip behind the horizon, all I really wanted to do was forget – forget about cradles and bibs, diapers and rattles, everything that had to do with the baby I couldn’t seem to have. And the best way to do that was to drown my sorrows in a vat of salsa at my favorite Mexican restaurant.

But life conspired against me. There we were, seated at a table for two with gentle music drifting from the intercom overhead. A candle flickered merrily on the table before me. And best of all, we were the only customers in the whole place.

Then, it happened. The hostess led another couple to a table directly across from me. And of course, sitting on the table between the husband and wife, was a car seat holding a brand new baby. I couldn’t believe it. This was God’s fault.

“Well, it’s official,” my husband, Bryan, murmured. “God wants you to face this.”

I grimaced. “I don’t want to.”

“You don’t have a choice.”

I turned toward him. “Okay then, how do I find peace in a world filled with children not my own?”

The baby’s sharp cry interrupted our conversation. I turned to see her face bunch up as another wail rose from her tiny frame. A moment later, her mother looked as if she, too, were going to burst into tears. The woman turned to her husband and whispered, “I told you this would never work. We can’t go anywhere anymore.” She slammed down her menu, grabbed the baby’s car seat, and rushed toward the door. Her husband watched her go, then slowly set down his own menu, shook his head, and followed.

Bryan sighed. “It’s kind of sad, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “It’s absurd. You and I,” I tapped my finger on the table then pointed at Bryan, “understand better than anyone what a miracle a child is. Yet people like that, people who have no idea how blessed they are, have children when we don’t.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant. I didn’t mean we should be sad for us.”

“Who, then?”

“I was sad for them.”

“What?!” My eyebrows lifted toward the ceiling.

Bryan remained calm. “Don’t you think it’s sad that those people have a baby, but they don’t seem to be enjoying her, at least not right now. We should pray for them.”

“Pray for THEM???” My voice raised an octave as a hundred objections flew through my mind. I was the one who needed prayer. I was the one hurting. I was the one denied the miracle that they enjoyed. I was the one that Bryan should feel sorry for! I, I, I…the pattern of my thoughts struck me and left me breathless. I was thinking only of myself, my own pain, my own loss. And come to think of it, it was the same every time I saw a baby, or a child. Now, in a flash of understanding, I saw that this habit had done nothing but increase my pain.

What if, just for a change, the sight of a baby caused my vision to turn outward instead? What if I took Bryan’s advice and prayed for the parents of the children I saw? What if I prayed for the kids themselves?

Crazy! But I decided to try it anyway. “Okay, let’s do it.”

He smiled and I began, pushing the words through a throat that seemed suddenly too tight. “Lord, please help those parents to rely on You as they raise their baby. Help them know what a miracle a baby is and enjoy every minute with her, even when she’s crying. Strengthen them and give them wisdom in the days and years ahead. And bless the child, Lord.” I paused, unable to go on.
Bryan took up the prayer. “May she grow up to know You and love You. Amen.” His hand reached across the table to squeeze mine. “I think we’ve found your answer, or at least part of it.”

A faint smile fluttered across my face. “Maybe we have.”

From that day on, every time I saw a baby or a child, every time I again felt that painful tightening of grief in my chest, I stopped and offered a prayer for the child and parents. Sometimes the prayer was only a sentence long, and other times it lasted a few minutes, but I always asked for God’s grace and love to fill the family for whom I prayed.

So, while struggles such as infertility naturally lead me to pray for myself, my circumstances, and the perceived solution to my difficulties, I’ve also discovered that these struggles allow me a unique and significant opportunity to pray for others who have what I desire. For me, infertility has been a hard and heart-wrenching road, a path I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Therefore, it makes sense that I should thank God whenever I see others who have not had to endure this trial too. Further, because infertility has taught me the blessing and beauty of a new baby, it’s also given me a unique ability to pray with depth for families with small children. As I’ve done so, God has shown me how to change my prayer life so my prayers focus less on me and more on others. Now, when a mother passes with her stroller, or a dad holds his new baby at church, or a couple sits across from me with their carseat, their presence becomes less of a reminder of my pain and more of a opportunity to bless another.

The same is true for other difficult life journeys. A single person who desires to be married can pray for friends in significant relationships. Who else better understands the value of being in a close relationship than one who is desiring that? Those in troubled marriages, can pray for marriages that seem strong. Those who have lost a job can pray for others who still have theirs. Been through divorce? Pray for others that they won’t have to go through that same heartache.

Praying for the “haves” when you’re a “have-not” can be hard. But I’ve found that it helps to keep bitterness from settling in my soul. It helps to fight jealousy and despair. It helps me to love others and be less focused on myself. And I hope that it makes me more like Jesus. And that is even more precious than the baby I longed for.

For more helps for the infertility journey, check out the resources page on my website: http://www.marloschalesky.com/html/resources.html

And also check out my fiction and nonfiction books on this subject:
If Tomorrow Never Comes: http://www.marloschalesky.com/html/fiction.html
Empty Womb, Aching Heart: http://www.marloschalesky.com/html/nonfiction.html

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week! It's The Vanishing Sculptor
by my friend, Donita K. Paul. If you like fantasy, check this one out! Here's some info:

Donita K. Paul’s 250,000-plus-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles series has attracted a wide spectrum of dedicated fans–and they’re sure to fall in love with the new characters and adventures in her latest superbly crafted fiction novel for all ages. It’s a mind-boggling fantasy that inhabits the same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles, but in a different country and an earlier time, where the people know little of Wulder and nothing of Paladin.

In The Vanishing Sculptor, readers will meet Tipper, a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions–including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon–and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder. Through Tipper’s breathtaking story, readers will discover the beauty of knowing and serving God.

Author Bio:
Donita K. Paul is a retired teacher and author of numerous novellas, short stories, and eight novels, including the best-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles, a series which has sold more than a quarter million books to date. The winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she spends time mentoring and encouraging young writers. Visit her online at http://www.donitakpaul.com/.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big Bold Beyond the Night News!

Hi Friends,

Guess what - BEYOND THE NIGHT is now available as an audiobook! Yay! You can download on iTunes or through Amazon, etc. Just search for "Beyond the Night Marlo Schalesky" to easily find it.

If you remember, Beyond the Night is my first "love stories with a twist!" and is about a woman going blind, the man who loves her but can't tell her so, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed. So, if you know anyone who has a lot of commute time, is going on a car trip/vacation this summer, or is visually impaired, this new audiobook would be a great gift!

Also, Beyond the Night was just named a finalist in the BOOK BUYER'S BEST contest sponsored by the Orange County RWA. This is a national contest for books with romantic elements. Beyond the Night finaled in the "Single Title" category (a non-inspirational category, meaning it was up against much steamier books). I'm continually amazed and grateful to hear how this book is touching hearts and lives!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crescent City Courtship by Elizabeth White

Hi Friends!

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week, then it's back to editing/rewriting for me ... my next book's due July 1st. All prayers appreciated!

Here's about this week's book:

Crescent City Courtship
By Elizabeth White
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
June 2009
ISBN 0373828144

Where to buy:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crescent-City-Courtship-Inspired-Historical/dp/0373828144/

ChristianBook: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=828142

Abigail Neal dreams of someday escaping her life in the slums of New Orleans. But how can a woman alone and unprotected ever fulfill her dreams of becoming a doctor? Then young medical student John Braddock comes to pay a call on a neighbor. Though the scars left on her heart have taught her never to trust anyone, Abigail is drawn to John's caring nature. Soon an unlikely friendship develops between the son of privilege and the poor daughter of missionaries. But when Abigail's mysterious past comes back to haunt her present, will she call upon her faith to help right a wrong and make a new life with her very own Prince Charming?

Note from Beth: Crescent City Courtship is a sequel to Redeeming Gabriel, my November release from Love Inspired Historical, but it is a stand-alone love story set in 1879 New Orleans. For more information regarding my research into 19th century medical techniques, medicines and surgical procedures, including autopsy and hospital care, check out my website at http://www.elizabethwhite.net.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When God Lets Your Blocks Fall

Hi Friends,

I was thinking about how I handle life when things go wrong, and I remembered this story. I found it helpful. Maybe you will too!

Tommy sat at my feet in the church nursery with blue, red, and green blocks scattered all around him. He pushed at the blocks with one finger, then scratched his head.

"Why don't you make a house with those?" I asked him.

He looked dubiously at the square and rectangular bits of wood and finally nodded. One after the next, he placed the blocks on top of one another, his chubby hands eager to build the structure that I suggested. Red on top of blue, on top of green, each block was carefully positioned on the one below. He grinned up at me. “I’m making a mansion!”

“I see that.” I smiled.

But, as the house grew taller, I could also see that it would soon fall. Some blocks sat precariously on the ones underneath them. They couldn’t hold much more weight. I held my breath, knowing what was to come. Yet, I didn't reach down to fix Tommy's building. Instead, I waited.

A moment later, the structure teetered, then righted itself. But not for long. As Tommy placed a blue triangle on the green square beneath, the whole house came tumbling down around his feet. Crash! Tommy pushed his hands over the fallen blocks and promptly began to cry.

As I watched him, I realized that sometimes I'm not so different from a three-year-old. When things go wrong in my life, when God chooses not to save my house of blocks, I can get mad too. When God asks me to do something and it doesn’t turn out the way I expect, I can feel betrayed, angry, and even a little resentful. "God, how could you let me down?" I may say. In other words, I, too, might stick out my lower lip and cry, "Waa!” (in a more sophisticated manner, of course).

Yet, how were my actions with Tommy any different than God’s with me? I hadn’t chosen to save Tommy’s structure. Sure, I could have knelt down and shored up the building so it wouldn’t fall. But, how would Tommy learn and grow if I always rushed in to right the wrongs, always fixed the houses, never allowed him to fail? Even though I was the one who suggested that he construct the house, the building wasn’t as important to me as his growth. Could it be that God feels the same about me? Could my success be less important than my spiritual growth?

When Tommy’s blocks fell, he cried for only a minute, then he stopped and wiped a dirty sleeve across his nose. Without further thought, he picked up a green block, looked at it, then began to run it over the carpet. His actions were accompanied by the familiar "brrrmm, brrrmm" sound that indicated his favorite race car. Tommy, in his own childish way, showed me how to move beyond life’s fallen blocks.

By watching Tommy, I realized that when things go wrong, I have a choice. I can either get mad at God, or I can simply accept the fact that He didn’t intervene, although He could have. As Tommy discovered, obedience doesn’t always guarantee success, at least in the way that I often define it.

So, when faced with my shattered expectations, I can either spend my time pointing the finger of blame at God or I can learn to say, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). From Tommy, I’ve learned that I need to be faithful, to trust God to run my life as He sees fit, even when I don’t like it very much. And that’s not easy.

But God has a right to do whatever He wants with my life, whether that means letting my blocks fall or not. And when they do, may I learn to make green race cars out of the remnants.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes

Hi Friends,

Here's another book I wanted to tell you about this week. It's Book: Sisterchicks In Wooden Shoes by my good friend, Robin Jones Gunn. Robin's Sisterchick books are a lot of fun and are published by the same publisher as my books. Anyway, here's a bit about it:
Summary: When a mammogram result comes back abnormal, midlife mama Summer Finley makes a snap decision to relegate fear to the back burner and fulfill a lifelong dream. Summer heads for Holland where she meets up with tulips, wooden shoes, and her best friend, Noelle.

Pen pals since fourth grade, Summer and Noelle have never met face-to-face. Through decades of heart-level correspondence, they have sustained a deep friendship. A week of adventure helps both women trade anxiety for a renewed and deeper trust in God. When Summer confides in Noelle about the abnormal medical report, Noelle finds the freedom to share a long-held heartache, and both women discover they needed each other more than they realized.

Women ages 35 and up, readers of Christian Boomer Lit, and fans of books such as The Yada Yada Prayer Group will enjoy Robin Jones Gunn’s humorous and uplifting style. True-to-life characters and moments of poignancy bring a deeper understanding of the value of life and the gift of true friends. Readers guide and bonus material included.

Author Bio:
Robin Jones Gunn is the best-selling and award-winning author of over seventy books, including the Glenbrooke, Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, Katie Weldon, and Christy and Todd: The College Years teen series. The Sisterchicks® series has sold more than 300,000 units, bringing her total sales to more than 3.5 million books worldwide. A Christy Award winner, Robin is a popular speaker, both at home and abroad, and is frequently interviewed on radio and on television.
Find Robin at:

Witness to Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Hi Friends!
Here's a new book I have to tell you about this week. It's Witness to Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.

Publisher: Steeple Hill
Release Date: June 2009
ISBN: 9780373443451

Copyright © 2009 by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Poised for an interview, TV reporter Hallie Berglund walks into a murder scene instead. The victim’s boyfriend stands over the body, murder weapon in hand. Hallie couldn’t stop the crime, but as the star witness, she’ll see the man brought to justice . . . right? Not according to her colleague Brody Jordan, who is convinced the police—and Hallie—are targeting the wrong man. To prove it, he’ll need Hallie’s help. The victim was wearing a bracelet handcrafted by Hallie’s long-dead mother. Now Hallie is the only one who can unearth the secrets of the past—and bring the sinister truth to light.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Channel Six television news reporter Hallie Berglund put her right foot on the bottom step of the swaybacked porch, then stopped cold. The hairs on her arms prickled. What was that awful noise coming from inside the house? Some kind of music? This century-old Victorian was rented by four University of Minnesota coeds, but even if they liked punk rock they wouldn't listen to this. And why was the front door several inches ajar?

Careful to keep the heels of her pumps from clacking against the wood, she walked up the remaining two steps, but angry creaks from the porch boards announced her arrival. Whoever—whatever—was inside gave no indication her approach had been heard. The noise progressed in decibels.

Hallie frowned. There had to be a logical explanation. On the telephone, Alicia Drayton had sounded eager, almost desperate, to do the interview as soon as possible. The part-time fashion model and full-time student had said her roommates would be out all afternoon—a perfect opportunity for the two of them to talk privately.

The sound continued—long, drawn out. Like something a person would hear on a dark and moonless night, not in the balmy afternoon of a cloudless June day. She doused the impulse to back away and wait for her cameraman to catch up with her. She was a reporter, and she needed to find out what was going on. Sooner rather than later

Her rap on the warped door panel widened the opening, revealing a foyer done in dark wood and last decade's wallpaper. She stepped inside onto a scatter rug and was greeted by lingering scents of mingled women's perfumes. To her left a set of stairs led upward. Ahead and to her right lay an opening framed in old-fashioned wide wood.

"Alicia?" Hallie's voice sounded hollow in the open space.

The noise stopped, and silence fell like a skipped heartbeat. Then a loud sniffle announced a fresh round of wails, this time in words spoken in a masculine tenor. "No, no, no. This isn't real. Allie, baby, wake uuuuuup!"

Hallie's breath caught. Was Alicia hurt? Hallie hurried forward, heels tapping the faded floorboards. She stepped through the opening, and a squawk escaped her throat.

What whirlwind had trashed this living room? The couch was tipped onto its back, an easy chair lay on its side, and the entertainment center had fallen face down, scattering shattered electronic equipment. And who lay sprawled on the floor near the heavily curtained picture window? The head and torso were concealed from view by a lean man with spiked blond hair who crouched over the inert body. His bare, muscular shoulders quaked beneath a sweat-streaked tank top the same shade of tan as his running shorts.

"Who? Wh-what?" The words stuttered between Hallie's lips. "Should we call 9-1-1?"

The man eased to his feet, all six feet six inches of him. He swiveled toward her like a man in a trance, slate-blue eyes staring blankly. Wetness glistened on drawn cheeks in a face all sharp planes and angles. In his fist he clutched a braided gold cord. "She's… dead."

Hallie's gaze fell to the head and shoulders on the floor behind the man's feet. She gulped. Whoever had trashed this room had also done a number on the woman's face… and her neck. Raw cord marks dug into her pale throat.

Alicia? The glossy auburn hair splayed around her head matched the publicity photos that had been sent over to the station, but the facial features were too puffy to be identified.

The giveaway was the man with what appeared to be the murder weapon in his hand—Alicia's boyfriend, Minnesota Golden Gophers' bad boy, Damon Lange. The college basketball player's famous temper had finally turned him into a killer.

Hallie's gaze locked with his. Ice encased her muscles, and her heart slammed against her rib cage. A change melted over Lange's face. Pinched sorrow fell away, relaxed into open-mouthed awareness, and then red-faced fear—and fury. Lange raised the fist that held the cord and charged toward Hallie.


Jill Elizabeth Nelson is an award-winning author of mystery and suspense. She writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith, earning her the tagline: Endless Adventure, Timeless Truth. Jill speaks at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. She and her husband live in rural Minnesota where they raised four children and are currently enjoying their first grandchild.

Visit Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s website at http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com/ for excerpts, book giveaways, and contests.

You can order this book directly from your local bookstore, retail stores such as Walmart, or online here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0373443455/jillelizabeth-20

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tips for When a Friend's Infertile

Hi Friends,

Well, I had my last scheduled radio interview today for IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES, and again I was asked about how friends and family of those struggling with infertility can be of help to those going through it. So today I thought I'd post some tips that may be helpful not only for those who know someone going through infertility, but also if you know someone going through any type of life crisis.

So, here ya go:

Infertile couples are everywhere – in our churches, small groups, families, and workplaces. In fact, one out of every six couples in America experience infertility. And despite their polite smiles, these couples are often hurting - filled with longing, pain, and questions that have no easy answers. They may even be in the midst of a spiritual crisis that is shaking the foundations of their faith. And yet, just when they most need the church, too often they find other Christians to be a source of added stress rather than much needed support. So, how can we minister to infertile couples in a way that helps and doesn’t hurt them? Here are some suggestions:

--Don’t try to make the infertile couple feel better by complaining about your own children or by telling them they are “lucky” not to have to deal with the stresses of having children.

--Don’t offer unsolicited advice on how to get pregnant. Suggestions such as “just relax” or “if you just adopt” are not helpful.

--Don’t assure the person that “God will give them a child.” There are no guarantees that every couple will be able to have children.

--Don’t ask a childless couple “so when are you going to start a family.” The two of them already are a family. Children expand a family, they don’t make one.

--Don’t avoid any mention of children or pregnancy. Your awkwardness will only make the couple feel awkward in return.

--Don’t offer reasons or excuses for God. Telling a couple why God may not want them to have children is not only painful, it’s presumptuous.

--Do let the couple know that you’re continuing to pray for them.

--Do remember them on special days, such as Mother’s Day. A simple note saying “I know this is a hard day for you. Just wanted to let you that you’re in my thoughts and prayers” can mean much.

--Do be sensitive about asking the couple to be involved in children’s ministries. Some infertile couples find joy in ministering to the children, while others find it difficult. The choice must be left to them, without any pressure or incrimination if they should choose not to be involved. The same applies to attending events such as baby showers.

--Do feel free to ask questions. If the couple is seeking treatment, inquire as to how they are managing. Infertility treatments can be emotionally, physically, as well as financially stressful. Couples will feel cared for when you ask about how they are doing rather than if the treatments are “working.”

--Do realize that infertility is often a long and painful journey. It is not something that goes away in a few months or that the couple will soon “get over.”

--Do provide the couple with a safe place for venting their spiritual questions and doubts. It is not unusual for infertile couples to question God’s love or fairness. A listening ear is more helpful than pat answers.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week: A Soldier’s Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt-Wings of Refuge Series

Despite a decade apart, this isn't the reunion Mandy Manchester expected! She thought she'd put high school sweetheart Nolan Briggs behind her. Now he's back…and the pararescue jumper literally sweeps her off her feet. He's ready and willing to rekindle what they once shared. Mandy, though, isn't prepared to put her heart at risk. He left her before—she won't trust him again. Can Nolan teach this grounded girl to take a leap of faith?

Purchase Links:

Special! 40% off the cover price here at eharlequin for a limited time only:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Soldiers-Reunion-Love-Inspired/dp/0373875320

Christianbook: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=875320&netp_id=607243&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers

Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/A-Soldiers-Reunion/Cheryl-Wyatt/e/9780373875320/?itm=1

Author Bio:
Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers.
To receive her quarterly newsletter for updates on new releases and contests with GREAT prizes, visit her Web site at http://www.cherylwyatt.com/ and sign up in the space provided. Cheryl respects your privacy and will not share your e-mail address with a third party.

Cheryl’s Blog: