Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soldier Daddy by Cheryl Wyatt

Hi Friends,

Here's a fun Love Inspired book I wanted to tell you about this week. It's Soldier Daddy by Cheryl Wyatt. Here's a bit about it:

About the book
U.S. Air Force commander Aaron Petrowski leads pararescue teams, yet can't find one nanny for his three-year-old twins? The widowed father is returning to duty, but not without the best care for his beloved boys. So when Sarah Graham applies, the young woman surprises everyone by passing inspection. Until Aaron discovers Sarah has a secret tied to a tragedy in his past. He can't keep her in his employ—or in his heart. Until his brave little soldier boys teach him a thing or two about love.

About the Author
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.
Soldier Daddy on Amazon
Or http://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Daddy-Inspired-Cheryl-Wyatt/dp/0373875576

Sunday, September 27, 2009

If God is Good by Randy Alcorn

Hi Friends,

Here's a nonfiction book I wanted to tell you about. It's a great new book on the place of suffering in our lives and what that has to do with God and our relationship with Him. Good stuff! Here's the info:

Book: If God Is Good
Author: Randy Alcorn

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Author Bio:
Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.

Intervention by Terri Blackstock

Hi Friends,

I'm back from Disneyland (more on that later!) and survived (we had a good time), and now am playing catch-up. The first thing is to tell y'all about a couple books that I wanted to post about last week and wasn't able to (no internet service at our hotel).

So, first, here's a great new novel by Terri Blackstock called INTERVENTION. Here's a bit about it:

Terri Blackstock's new book Intervention was inspired by her personal experiences with her daughter's addictions. Six years ago she became aware that her daughter (then in her early twenties) had a severe prescription pill addiction that was killing her, and she hired an interventionist to convince her daughter to go to treatment. After a grueling few hours, her daughter agreed to go. As Terri put her on the plane with the interventionist, she was hit with the crushing feeling that her daughter was in the hands of a stranger, and anything could happen. That's when this book was born.

Over the past few years, Terri's family has been in a tornado of relapses and rehabs, with one emergency after another, and grace upon grace. But through all this, God has taught her to pray as never before, and he's shown her how many other families are experiencing the same thing. He's also shown her that many blessings can come from crises such as this. Terri has tried to fold all of those experiences into this suspense novel of desperation and hope. She's also added a page to her web site: "Hope for Families of Addicts," (http://www.terriblackstock.com/hope-for-families-of-addicts/ ) which has tips on dealing with a loved one who has addictions.

Though the book is fiction, Terri poured much of herself into Barbara, the mother who's desperate to save her daughter. And Terri's own daughter has given her blessings for Terri to talk about this, in hopes of helping other hurting families and raise awareness about the perils of addiction. To see/hear Terri share her personal story about Intervention, don't miss her interviews on American Family Radio's "Today's Issues" on September 24, Moody Radio's "Chris Fabry Live on September 25, and "The 700 Club" on September 29.

In Stores Everywhere September 22nd--
It was her last hope—and the beginning of a new nightmare.
Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all.

Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily.

The mysteries intensify as everyone’s panic grows: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?

In this gripping novel of intrigue and suspense, bestselling author Terri Blackstock delivers the page-turning drama that readers around the world have come to expect from her.

Watch the Intervention video trailer at www.youtube.com/terriblackstock

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Loving despite . . .

Hi Friends,

I've been thinking this week about how easy it is to be annoyed with people, to dislike, to criticize, to accuse. But God calls us to love. So, how do we love the irritating? In pondering that question, I was reminded of an story I shared a few years ago, and the things I learned from it. It was a good reminder for me, and I hope you'll find it interesting too. Here's what happened and what I learned:

"Love one another" -- it sounds so simple! So, why is it so hard? Let's face it. People are difficult to love. They whine, complain, they rarely listen. And what about all those annoying little habits? No matter how much of a "people person" we may be, there are still those who really get under our skin. For me, Pam was just such a person.

She sat across from me on the trolley at the company outing. A harmless honeybee buzzed down the aisle, and she screamed. I barely stopped myself from rolling my eyes in disgust. Back at work, another person disagreed with her, and she pouted for the rest of the day. Later she complained loudly about the temperature in the office, even though the rest of us were comfortable. In short, everything about her rubbed me the wrong way.

Yet, no matter how much she annoyed me, God kept thrusting us together. And all the time His words nagged at the back of my mind, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20 NIV)

Yikes! Hard words. It wasn't that I hated Pam, but I certainly didn't love her either. How did Jesus love the less than loveable? During His earthly ministry, He was surrounded with annoying people, not the least of which was Peter. Impulsive, emotional, always speaking at the wrong time, Peter would have been a challenge for anyone. Peter was not so different from Pam. Yet Jesus saw more in Peter than his actions warranted. Could I see Pam the way Jesus saw Peter?


What's in a name? In the gospels, Simon Peter resembles more the shifting sand than a firm, immovable rock. Yet, early in their relationship, Jesus renames Simon, saying "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18 NIV) Somehow, Jesus saw past Peter's present faults and shortcomings and found the seed of who Peter would become under the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Then, Jesus chose to address Peter as if he had already become the rock.

What would I call Pam if I saw what she could become under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit? In my mind, I had been calling her "annoyer" and "petty complainer," but what did God see? As I prayed for God to show me one good quality, I began to see that her bothersome habits were partially the result of a sensitive spirit. With God's grace, that sensitivity could be transformed into a Christ-like compassion. So, every time I saw her I began to silently call her "compassion" and think of her as such. With her new 'name' firmly in my mind, I started watching for the glimmer of compassion I knew was in her. Soon, I found myself seeking out her company, and even beginning a real friendship.


As I schooled myself to see Pam as ‘compassion,’ my next task was to learn to see beyond her faults and affirm her potential. Again, I thought of Peter.

I can almost see the scene as they reclined around the table, still scattered with bits of the Passover meal. Twelve disciples, grasping for their fair share, arguing about who was the greatest. And there was Peter, fiercely asserting that he was greater than all the others. But Jesus knew better. Everything that was wrong with Peter would soon come to the forefront when he would deny Jesus three times. But even in the acknowledgement of Peter's imminent failure, Jesus still saw the future "rock" in Peter. In Luke 22:32 (NIV), He says, "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Jesus didn't say, "Simon, you are such a wishy-washing, impulsive, emotional disciple that you won't even have the backbone to stand by me when I need you the most," (even though that may have been true!). Instead, Jesus prayed that Peter's faith, despite his failure, would become strong and rock-like. Then, Jesus looked beyond Peter's faults and affirmed his potential -- 'Peter, despite your failure, you'll turn back. Then, be a rock to your brothers.'

Could I look beyond Pam's faults and affirm her potential too? For me, it was so natural to dwell on what was wrong with Pam, to constantly ask, "What's the matter with her?," or "Why does she have to act like that?," until I could see nothing else. Even one such thought would poison my interaction with her, dispelling God's love just as surely as if I decided to hate her after all.

I needed to control my thoughts about Pam. As Paul says, "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV) To control my thoughts, especially when she was the most irritating, I began to pray for her to become "compassion," just as Jesus prayed for Peter. For example, when she started to whine about another employee, I tried to squelch my exasperation and instead pray that God would give her understanding. Then, when she was kind to another employee, I tried to make sure that I commented on it. When she was helpful, I took the time to express my appreciation.

Choosing affirmation rather than criticizing began to cause small changes in Pam. Soon, she was complaining less and spending more time trying to be helpful. One day, she stopped me in the hall and asked, "What do you see in me, anyway?"

It was the opportunity I had been waiting for. "I see someone who God loves," I said, "And I see the neat qualities He's placed in you. I wonder, will you let Him make you into the person that both He and I see you could be?"


In Luke 22:31-38 (NIV), after Jesus' resurrection, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. When Peter says yes, Jesus says "Feed my sheep." In this scene, Jesus forgives Peter's past failure and commissions him to become the man that He has seen all along.

Like Jesus, I needed to focus on Pam’s future and help her to become God's vision of her. Instead of saying, "Why don't you do this or that?," I began saying things like, "Mary's having a hard day, let's sit with her at lunch and try to make her feel better," and, "Thank you for telling me about Mike's troubles. How do you think we can help him?" When she complained about the temperature, I would say, "I'm glad you brought that up, let's see how others feel." I was asking her, in a subtle way, and with my help, to be compassionate to others.

These days, Pam sometimes still screams at honeybees, and she still likes the thermostat turned too high. But, she's learning to see herself through God's eyes, and to trust Him to make her into His dream for her. Perhaps someday she'll be like Peter, with a solid, rock-like faith, and the compassion of Christ Himself. And in the meantime, I am learning, little by little, to love her like Jesus loves her.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Final Exposure by Roxanne Rustand

Hi Friends!

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week. It's FINAL EXPOSURE by Roxanne Rustand. Here's a bit about it:

Safety. Serenity. That’s what Jack Matthews wants, and what he seeks in Lost Falls, Montana. A quiet retreat is just what Jack and his orphaned nephew, Max, need—especially with gentle, beautiful Erin Cole as their host. But when sirens in the night leave Max screaming, Jack’s faced with the harsh truth. They’re not safe—not him, not Max and especially not Erin. What is she hiding? What does the shadowy figure stalking her want? And how much will Jack have to risk to keep her safe?

Something new for Roxanne is her blog: ”All Creatures Great and Small Place.”

The name came from the lyrics of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,”
a Cecil Alexander hymn written in 1848. If you love animals, this is the place to visit–where authors and writers can share stories (both poignant and fun) about their pets. Roxanne lives on acreage in Iowa and has horses, dogs, cats, and welcomes strays too often!

You’ll also find periodic additions to “The Old Horse Trader Tales”–true stories about the adventures (and misadventures!) of a horse trader during the 1930’s -1980’s. She wrote them as feature articles for a magazine about fifteen years ago, and looks forward to sharing all of the nostalgic stories about this charming old man.

Find her at: http://www.roxannerustand.com/

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Far Side of the Pool

Hi Friends,

Well, our Thursday homeschooling is finally done, I'm catching up on this week's to-do list (hence my one-day-later-than-usual blog post), and the girls are out in the pool, swimming and having a great time. As I listen to the splashing and laughing that drifts up to me through the open window, I'm reminded of a story from a few years ago. And I find that God is using this story again to remind me of what success really is.

So, here's the story. Maybe you'll find it helpful too!

Bryan and I stood at the edge of the community pool and watched the water lap into the gutters. Two teenagers splashed at the far end while an old man slowly made his way back and forth in the far lane.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “They have lessons for preschoolers. Bethany’s old enough now.”

Bryan scowled. “Are you kidding? There’s no way I’m having a stranger teach my daughter to swim.”

“You’re going to do it?” I cleared my throat. “Do you know how?”

Bryan raised his eyebrows.

“I know, I know. You swam for Stanford, went to the NCAA, still have swim records on the books back in North Dakota.” I jabbed my finger into his chest. “But that doesn’t mean you know how to teach a little kid to swim.”

He squatted down and dangled his fingers in the water. “Eighty-one degrees. Exactly.” He grinned up at me. “Didn’t I tell you about the summer when I was twelve?”

“Of course.” I knew all about that summer, or at least I thought so. I’d heard the story a hundred times – how Bryan had gone flying off the front end of his brand new 10 speed. How his left arm swelled like a sausage. How his mother insisted that the doctors x-ray the other arm as well, only to find that both arms were broken. Broken, and put into twin casts during the summer he was supposed to break the state records for the 12 and under age group and lead his team to the state championships. Broken arms, broken dreams.

“So you know what I did that summer?”

“Well, you didn’t swim. You didn’t break any records. You didn’t win the state championship.”

“Yes I did.”


“I helped win the state championship.”


“The coach put my in charge of the littlest kids. He didn’t have time to teach them. But I did. I had all summer.” Bryan gazed over the pool. A smile twitched his lips. “I taught over a dozen little kids to make it from one end of the pool to the other. And because of them we won the state championship that year. You wouldn’t believe how many points those kids won just because they could swim across the pool.”

“You never told me that.”

He shook his head. “It wasn’t always pretty, but it worked. And we won.” His voice lowered. “Even without the team’s ‘big star.’” He stood and playfully flicked droplets of water over my shirt. “So I think I can teach our daughter how to swim.”

I laughed. “Okay, I guess you’re qualified.”

Bryan rested his hand on my shoulder. “Glad you agree. Now let’s go home.”

We turned from the pool and walked back to the parking lot. As I got into our car and buckled my seatbelt, I glanced over to Bryan in the driver’s seat. “You know, that is the most profound story I’ve heard in a long time.”


“Do you think it works like that in God’s kingdom too?”

“What are you talking about?”

I rubbed my chin. “Well, I’m no superstar evangelist. I haven’t brought thousands to Christ. I write books, but we both know they haven’t rocketed up the bestseller lists.”

Bryan stifled his cough.

I shot him a glare. “We don’t have any big, successful ministry, and our small group is, well, small.”

“It’s good though.”

“But we’re not setting any records.”

“Maybe we don’t need to.”

I settled back in my chair. Paul does say, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, NIV).

“Just like those little kids were like my crown in the state championships.”

I nodded. “You know I’ve been so worried that what I’m doing in God’s kingdom isn’t good enough. That somehow I’m falling short. But maybe it isn’t about me and my success. Perhaps God’s telling me that it’s enough to help others to learn how to get to the other side of the pool.”

Bryan winked at me. “Sometimes, that’s what winning is all about.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Making Music with the Master

Hi Friends,

Well, Bethany started orchestra practice last Friday. She's finally old enough to be learning an instrument at school. So far, she's trying out the violin, and loving it. She's been practicing every day, and it reminded me of a story that I might have shared awhile back. It went like this:

Small brows furrowed in concentration. Small fingers pressed hard on guitar frets. Small thumbs thrummed the strings.

And music filled the room – awkward, off-key, clashing music. But to my mommy-ears, the sounds were sweet. I smiled.

Bethany and Joelle, my two young daughters, were working so hard to learn how to play real music on their brand new kids’ guitars. They sat on short stools in front of their dad, with their guitars on their laps and their fingers poised over the strings.

Bryan held his own guitar (adult-sized, of course) and strummed the chord again. A perfect C warbled from his instrument. He paused. “See, like that.” The sound died away. “Now you try.” He placed the girls’ fingers on the proper frets one more time.

The girls studied Daddy’s fingers. They glanced at their own, then looked at his again. Then, they took deep breaths, and strummed.

Better. Not good, but at least the sound didn’t leave my hair standing on end.

Bryan adjusted their fingers again. First Joelle’s, then Bethany’s. “Try not to push down the other strings.”

Bethany nodded and grinned. “Okay, Daddy.” She leaned forward.
Joelle stuck out her tongue to focus.

I hurried for the camera.

They tried it yet again – studying the way Daddy did it, checking their own fingers, and playing the note. Studying, checking, playing. Boldly, joyfully, with Daddy’s help.

It wasn’t perfect, but each time, the sound improved. By the end, their fingers were dented by the strings, their picks were well worn, and they had almost learned to produce a decent C chord.

But most importantly, they were happy. Glowing. Why? Because they were playing guitar, just like Daddy.

As I stood by and clicked pictures, I was reminded of how God, my father, asks me to imitate Him too. 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV), says “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” And in Matthew 11:29 (NIV), we’re told to, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart . . .”

I’m called to be like Him, to learn from Him. Doing that, I’ve come to realize, isn’t a whole lot different from my girls learning to play guitar. As God makes beautiful music, He asks me to join in – to try. And though my fingers may be still a little small, and I might bump the wrong strings, still what’s important is that I study the way my Daddy does it and try to do the same myself. Study, check, play. Boldly, joyfully, and with my Father in heaven’s help.

It doesn’t matter if my music isn’t always perfect. What matters is that I watch, learn, and try again. That I practice using my instruments like God uses His. The Bible, circumstances in life, popular culture, off-the-cuff comments by acquaintances, friends, or family – how does God make music from these instruments? How does He work in people’s lives? And how can I make music with those same instruments?

The only way to know is to study the Master. Study the gospels. How did Jesus use scripture, culture, circumstances, comments, in the gospel accounts? How does God work in my own life?
In the lives of the people I know? We must study, watch, learn, and play.

God is making music all around us. If we pay attention, we can make music too. It may not be perfect. It may a little off-key, a little awkward. But if we practice and watch the master musician – if we allow him to move our fingers along the frets, we too can play the notes of heaven, and bring beautiful music into the lives of those around us.

So, let us play. Joyfully, boldly, with our gaze fixed on the Master who teaches us the proper chords.