Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where's My White Space??

Hi Friends,

Okay, crazy week here. Life crammed together so tight I'm only just now getting to my regular Wednesday blog post. Alas! It's not right! Between school starting, the baby getting more and more active, the horse getting colic, as well as all the regular "crazy," I'm in serious need of a nice, hot white mocha with peppermint from Starbucks!

Anyway, as I was thinking about this week, I was reminded of a story I think I've talked about before, but I really needed to ponder it again. So, I thought I'd share it here to help me remember (and maybe some of y'all too :-)) that I really need to have "white space" in my life, and when I don't, well, that ain't pretty.

Here's my thoughts on that, in the form of a little story:

“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.”

“See?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Look to the East by Maureen Lang

Hi Friends,

I have a new book to tell you about this week. It's Look to the East by Maureen Lang. Here's a message straight from Maureen, telling you all about it:

From Maureen:
Greetings! I'm eager to share the news about my newest book release. Have you ever wondered how many love stories have one war or another for a backdrop? Rather than counting, I decided to plunge ahead and add a few more titles. Look to the East is the first in a three book series, each one linked by a European, First World War setting—but little else, since each one is an independent story.

So come along for a glimpse back, circa early 1900's, rural France . . .

Look To The East by Maureen Lang

A village under siege. A love under fire.
France 1914

At the dawn of the First World War, the French village of Briecourt is isolated from the battles, but the century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. When the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud are forced to work together to protect stragglers caught behind enemy lines.

Julitte Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the stragglers—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she's playing with fire. Charles Lassone hides in the cellar of the Briecourt church, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he's discovered, it will bring danger to the entire village and could cost Charles his life.

A note from Maureen:

This book was one of those stories that just needed to be told. Inspired by actual events in a small town in France, it was a dream come true for me to travel there for research and to absorb the atmosphere. Although my book takes place nearly one hundred years ago, the same area today is similar in many ways: picturesque little villages surrounded by a lovely rural landscape. Thankfully, there were no rumbles of battle in the distance when I was there . . .

My prayer is that the events of the past won't be forgotten, so we'll never again make the same mistakes.About Maureen Lang:Maureen lives with her family (her husband, three kids and their lovable lab) in Illinois. She spends her days dreaming up people in faraway places, characters who live far more exciting lives than she does within the safety of her happy home. Look to the East is Maureen's ninth novel.


Look to the East can be purchased at:




Or wherever books are sold. Happy Reading!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review of If Tomorrow Never Comes

Hi Friends,

Got a nice review of If Tomorrow Never Comes over at the Cleveland Christian Books Examiner. If you get a chance, feel free to pop over there and leave a comment. Here's the link:

http://www.examiner.com/x-12639-Cleveland-Christian-Book-Reviews-Examiner

Meanwhile, may your day be filled with the WONDER of God's grace!

:-) Marlo

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shrimp & Servanthood - Thoughts on Galatians 6

Hi Friends,

Guess what - I’ve discovered the secret to better understanding my Bible – eat out more often!

On Friday we ate out at my favorite seafood restaurant, Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company (I looove their chilly shimp!), and I was reminded of Galatians 6:1-10.

Bubba's helped me to reconcile its seemingly contradictory message. On the one hand, Galatians 6:2 (NIV) tells us to “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” And then, only a few verses down, Paul instructs “each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5, NIV)

Huh? Which is it? Do I carry others’ burdens or make everyone carry his own? Which fulfills the law of Christ?
At Bubba's I was reminded that the answer is Both. There I was, munching a plateful of delicious peel-n-eat shrimp. Servers buzzed around, bringing buckets and plates of steaming food, scribbling down orders, clearing leftovers from the tables around me. Amidst smiles and clinking glasses, they asked Forrest Gump trivia questions and recommended their favorite dishes.

I stuffed in another juicy shrimp and reached for my water glass. It was empty. But no worries! Unlike other restaurants, at Bubba’s you don’t have to try to catch your server’s eye, or raise your glass when they pass and jiggle the ice. Instead Bubba’s has this simple, yet ingenious, contraption of two license plates hooked together. When the blue “Run, Forrest, Run” sign is showing on the table, the servers know you have what you need. But flip the license place to the “Stop, Forrest, Stop” sign, and whoever the closest server is will stop and ask what they can get for you.

An empty glass meant that I needed to flip the sign. So I did. A moment later, a server stopped. Seconds after that, my glass was full again. And all the while, busy servers still zipped around the tables, getting customers just what was needed.

As I drank water and watched the woman at the next table flip her sign, I remembered the secret to the mystery of Galatians 6. Each server was carrying his or her own load. No one was slacking, all were working hard to make sure the customers had what they needed. But they were carrying each other’s loads too. As soon as a sign was flipped, someone was there, whether it was their assigned table or not.

The key was they weren’t focused on themselves, on getting credit for being a great server, or making sure they didn’t do more than others. As in Galatians 6:4, instead of comparing, their focus was on making sure the customers, all the customers, were happy. Their goal was to serve, to do good to those of us who were seated. And because of that focus, they became an excellent example of Galatians 6.

The attitude of the servers at Bubba’s is what I want in my life – relationships in which the main concern is not “getting ahead” but rather “doing right,” where I’m working together with others to do good and to serve.

Relationships like that have to start with me. My focus needs to be in line with what Paul instructs in Galatians 6:10 (NIV), “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” That, I’ve come to see, is what it means to fulfill the law of Christ in my life. It means to be focused not on self and getting an advantage, but on doing good and serving, and banding together with others to serve better and help more, all of us doing carrying our own loads and also the burdens of one another.

And happily for me, it also means it’s okay to eat out a little more often!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Growing ... Jayden & Me

Hi Friends,

Well, Jayden is very happy about his new mobility. He's crawling all around and pulling himself up on all kinds of things. And now, he's no longer happy just swinging in his swing or jumping in his bouncer. He used to think his bouncer was the greatest thing in the world, but now it's not enough. He wants to go more places, do more things, explore and stretch his newfound abilities. Today he was even working on conquering the stairs.

And he does all this even though on Monday, the morning after he first learned to pull himself to a stand, he clunked his face twice in a row and gave himself a fat lip. He cried loud and hard, and then he was back at it again. Working, stretching, striving to do more, grow more in his new skills.

He reminded me that I want to be like that in my walk with God, too. I want to be stretching, growing, wanting to be more like Him every day. And when I get a "clunk" on the face, I ought to just have a good cry, then keep trying, and not let past hurt stop me from pushing forward in the things that God would have me grow in.

I think too often as adults we let past pain hold us back. We worry too much about being hurt again and forget the wonder of finding new freedom in being like Christ. We love and are hurt, so we're relunctant to love sacrificially again. We try to follow what we think God wants and fail, so we're hesitant to try again. Someone clunks us when we attempt to help, so we back off and look out for number one.

But Jayden is teaching me to forget past hurt and press on, keep trying to follow God better, grow in Him, and keep looking forward to stretching myself to be more and more like Him.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jayden Stands

Hi Friends,

Jayden pulled himself to a stand yesterday afternoon for the first time. Here he is:
I set him down, turned around, turned back a couple seconds later, and there he was. He was very interested in the wood chips inside the planter. Now let's see if I can upload the video:

video

Yay, it worked! So, the pot starts to tip and that's why the video gets blurry and stops there at the end, as I'm jumping to make sure it doesn't fall over.

Last week he starts crawling, and this week he's pulling himself up. May I exhibit such eagerness to grow and develop in Christ, huh? :-)

The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall


Hi Friends,


The book I have to tell you about this week is The Hope of Refuge by best-selling author, Cindy Woodsmall. I endorsed this one, so you'll see my words of recommendation inside the front cover! If you like Amish fiction, this one is definitely for you! Here's a bit about it:

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

About the Author ~

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, and the New York Times best-sellers When the Morning Comes and When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and two daughters-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of more than thirty years.

http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/




Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun Firsts this week


Hi Friends!

Lots of fun firsts this week. Jayden started crawling. He's been working up to it for a week, and finally figured out how to get all the "pieces" together.

Then, Bria and Jayna rode horses by themselves (without someone leading the horse) for the first time this week. I showed them how to rein and to stop. They did okay, not great yet, but they sat up nice and straight and held the reins well. More practice for them!


Here's Jayna on the horse.
And below is Bria.
I was reminded again of how God works with us to teach us the things we need to know and help us grow into the people He envisions us to be.

He doesn't expect us to start running right away - we learn to crawl first, little by little. And learning to be like Jesus is a lot like learning to ride. We just have to keep practicing, getting better a little at a time, learning how to rein ourselves in the right way to go, how to stop ourselves when we need to - and then, only later, do we learn to go faster in the things that are right.

So, may you learn how to turn the right way, stop when needed, and look forward to picking up your speed in the days, months, and years to come!
Blessings and wisdom to you, my friends!
Marlo

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Her Inheritance Forever by Lyn Cote

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week:


HER INHERITANCE FOREVER
TEXAS: Star of Destiny

By Lyn Cote

HER INHERITANCE FOREVER (Avon Inspire, Trade Paperback Original, On Sale: August 18, 2009, ISBN: 9780061373435, $12.99) is book two of the Texas: Star of Destiny series.

In 1836 Texas, Alandra Sandoval is the Tejano lady of Rancho Sandoval. She is determined to show the world of men that she, a woman, can run the ranch successfully without a male by her side. Yet she still longs for future love and a family. Scully Falconer, a loner, is the top hand on a nearby ranch. He has given his loyalty to the Quinn family and doesn’t ask more than honest pay for an honest day’s work. Alandra, the lady of Mexican descent, and Scully, the American cowboy, think they have very different paths set before them. But greedy relatives burst onto the scene, threatening to change their way of life. And when General Santa Anna crosses the Rio Grande and marches north to keep his rendezvous with destiny at the Alamo, Alandra and Scully’s lives will never be the same.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
LYN COTE is an award-winning author of both contemporary and historical inspirational romance. She speaks at state, regional and national writer’s conferences and is an active member of RWA and the American Christian Fiction Authors. Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn’s “Women of Ivy Manor” series published by FaithWords was a 2006 Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National Readers Choice Contest. She is also one the top-selling authors in Harlequin’s Love Inspired category line. Lyn and her husband live in Wisconsin.

http://www.lyncote.net/