Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Groom in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week. It's Groom In Training by Gail Gaymer Martin, the second book in the Man's Best Friend Series from Steeple Hill Love Inspired

Here's a bit about it:

Friends, Four-legged Friends and Love.

A widow with a sad past, Steph Wright, finds comfort in her faith and her adorable Border Collie, Fred. When Fred becomes enamored with the neighbor's pedigreed Bouvier, Steph meets Nick. With a broken engagement and a busy job, Nick isn't open to love and romance. But when Nick steps in to defend Steph, long talks ensue during dog walking, and both begin to learn that God has plans for each of them, especially Steph who sees some unexpected "groom-in-training" going on.

Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes fiction for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing, where she was recently honored by Heartsong readers as their Favorite Author of 2008. Gail has written forty-four contracted novels with three million books in print. She is the author of Writing the Christian Romance, a Writers Digest Books release. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations and also presents workshops at conference across the US. Gail has a Masters degree and post-master’s classes from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and is a licensed counselor. She lives in Michigan with her husband.

Website: www.gailmartin.com
Gail's Thoughts: www.gailmartin.blogspot.com
Writing Fiction Right: www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com
Facebook:: http://www.facebook.com/people/Gail-Gaymer-Martin/1429640580
Twitter: http://twitter.com/GailGMartin

Groom In Training available where books are sold or click below
You can find this book and the first book in the series, Dad In Training, at

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Watching for God

Hi Friends,

I'm finding this is one of those super-busy, too-much-to-do weeks with editing deadlines, article deadlines, payroll, taxes, things due for the kids' school, other things I've promised to have to people by Friday, not to mention the regular stuff like laundry, dishes, marriage class homework, responding to emails, paying bills, feeding all the critters at the "zoo" (human and animal both ;-)), and so on. So, as I'm zooming from here to there, I was reminded of something that happened a couple months ago, and it really spoke to me about watching for God in the busyness, keeping a heart of worship, and remembering where my focus should be even when I'm buzzing from one thing to the next. It happened like this:

Everyone says God is found in silence. I’ve discovered that sometimes he’s in the chaos too. For me, that’s a good thing, because with five little kids, chaos is plentiful at my house.

It was especially so one Friday afternoon not too long ago. Disasters abounded. One kid had tumbled down the stairs and clunked her head earlier that day, then she skinned her knees on the pavement, another fell off her bike and broke the fall with her face (good thing two of her teeth had already fallen out the night before), the other wet her pants, twice, and the oldest needed help with some tangles in her hair. Meanwhile, the dryer had just buzzed, the phone was ringing, and my parents were coming for the weekend, so I really needed to clean house and make the bed they’d be sleeping in.

I finished feeding the baby, then plopped him into his playpen with his toys. Next, I went about doing all the things a mom has to do – kisses and bandages, dishes and laundry, bills and hair brushing, picking up messages (I never did get to the phone in time to answer it), making beds, and rubbing antibiotic ointment on a variety of “owies.”

Meanwhile, the baby chewed his rubber duckie, rattled his toy rattle, squeaked his bear, and pushed the button to make his stuffed dog sing the ABC song. As I passed by his playpen once, twice, three times, I began to notice something. Every time he caught a glimpse of me, he looked up, grinned, clapped his hands and raised his arms.

The third time he did it, I had to stop, because something about his actions reminded me of God, reminded me of worship, of clapping to a song, of raising my hands in praise.

Baby Jayden was in his little playpen world, busy with his little baby toys. And yet, he was watching too, waiting, eager for a glimpse of the one who loved him, provided for his needs, and kept him safe. He wasn’t too busy to keep watch, and when he saw me, to giggle and raise his hands.

I paused and picked him up.

He laughed and clapped his hands some more.

That was when I knew I needed to be a lot more like him. In the midst of all my busyness, I needed to also keep watch for the One who provides, protects, and loves. I needed to keep an eye out for God working around me. Only that would make me happy enough to clap my hands and raise my arms. Folded laundry, bandaged owies, a vacuumed floor – all were necessary, but none filled my heart with delight. If I wanted to be as happy as baby Jayden, I needed to put myself in a position to see God’s glory, whenever he passed by. I needed to be like Moses in Exodus 33:18-23 (NIV):

“Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’ And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence …’ Then the LORD said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back… ’”

All Moses wanted was God’s presence, was a glimpse of his glory. And God put him in a position to see just that, much like I’d placed Jayden in the playpen where he could see me too. But both Moses and Jayden had to watch.

And just like them, I had to learn to watch too, to pay attention to what God might be doing when I'm in my little playpen-world, with my toys and trials, tears and limitations. No matter what I’m doing, how much chaos surrounds me, how many boo-boo’s need bandaging, I need to still be watching for God to pass by. And when I spy Him, I can throw up my hands, grin, and giggle with delight, because nothing makes me happier than catching a glimpse of God at work around me.

And that’s what I hope I'll remember this week in the midst of all the deadlines and to-do's.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Prepared for the Floods?

Hi Friends,

In honor of today's pouring down rain . . .

I gripped my umbrella in tight fists and stared through the rain that careened off the fabric above me. Then, I took a few steps forward and waved at the yellow, husband-shaped blob that stood a few feet away, the image obscured by the water pouring between us.

Bryan tugged at his mustard-colored rain slicker and didn’t wave back. In fact, he didn’t even turn as he sloshed through the foot-deep water that threatened the foundation of our house.

“Hey, you need help?” I shouted the question over the roar of the rain.

He glanced back and squinted. “Get a hose.”

A hose? With all this water, it seemed that the last thing we needed was a hose.

Bryan waved his hand toward the garage. “Get all the hoses you can find. Hurry.” He knelt down and starting digging into the hole where the drainage pipe was supposed to be.

“What happened?”

“Drains must be plugged. We need to siphon off this water before it damages our foundation.”

I nodded and jogged to the garage. There, I found three hoses and hauled them back to the ever-deepening pool over our patio.

Bryan grabbed the first hose, shoved it under the water, then pulled the other end downhill to the lawn. After a few minutes, he stood and strode back toward me.

I held out the second hose. “Is it working?”

He grimaced and took the next hose. “Yeah, but it’s slow. We really need the drain pipes to work.”

“Why aren’t they?”

“I don’t know.”

Bryan set the second hose to siphoning while I worked on the third. But even with all three hoses, the level of the water didn’t seem to be lowering. And the rain just kept pouring down.

For the rest of the afternoon, we labored in the pounding rain to keep the water from flooding our basement. It was hard work with pumps and hoses, buckets and brooms. We sloshed, we hauled, we siphoned, we swept. We watched, we waited, we hoped, and we wondered what had happened to the drains.

In the months previous, when the sun was shining, nothing seemed wrong. The patio was clean and shiny. The drains looked fine. But the first big rainstorm of the year proved that something had gone wrong.

The next day, after the rains had let up, Bryan came in from working in the yard. He called to me from the front room. “I figured out what happened.”

I peered around the corner. “What?”

“Seems that a bunch of grass had grown into one of the pipes, plugging it. The water couldn’t get out. That’s why it backed up.”

“Guess we should have checked that.”

“I didn’t even know that pipe was there.”

“Well, we certainly know it now.” And now, we’d know to keep it clear. But it was too bad we hadn’t paid enough attention to the pipes while the weather was good. It took a storm to show us that everything wasn’t as clear and free-flowing as we’d thought.

Life is a lot like that, too. When the sun’s shining and all seems well, it’s easy to think our faith is all right. It’s easy to forget to keep things cleared out and the pipes flowing. I miss my regular time of Bible study and prayer and think, “Oh well, I’ll just do it next time.” Little issues pop up, and I simply deal with them, forgetting to cast all my cares upon God, because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).

But then the rainstorm hits. Something hard and unexpected happens. Fears, worries, doubts pile up and threaten my foundation. And in the midst of the storm, it’s hard work to clear the flood. Instead, it’s better to pay attention when the sun’s shining. It’s better to keep the lines of communication open and flowing freely between me and God before the rains start to fall.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) tells us “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

By praying continually, by being joyful, by giving thanks, I can keep my spiritual “pipes” open so I won’t be caught by surprise when life’s storms hit. I need to pay attention while the sun’s shining so that when it rains my faith is ready to flow freely through pipes kept clear by prayer and faithfulness.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trucks, Toys, & Grown-Up Boys

Hi Friends,

So Bryan and I are taking the new DYNAMIC MARRIAGE course at our church. Had the first meeting Monday, and started in with the reading and homework for the last couple days. Looks like it'll be a great experience (and a great time to focus on each other while the kids are with Grandma & Grandpa - YAY!). So far, we've been talking about our different needs and what we value most in each other, and I was reminded of something that happened awhile back that gave me some useful insight into my hubby.

So, I thought I'd share the story here in case any of you can relate - here's something about trucks, toys, and grown-up boys ... and making men happier in marriage:

Well, it finally happened. My husband, Bryan, got a brand new hitch for his Ford Explorer. Not just any old hitch, mind you - not one of those pesky little balls on the bumper. Oh no. This was a man-sized hitch.

I knew I was in trouble when Bryan came home with a smile as big as a slice of watermelon. “So, what do you think?” He grinned and motioned to the back of the truck.

I glanced at the metal bar and attempted to appear impressed. “Uh, it’s nice.” I squatted down to look closer, thinking I must be missing something. Nope, it still looked like nothing more than a steel bar with a hole in it. Somehow, I had expected more for the three hundred and some odd dollars he’d paid for it.

“Nice?! Is that all you can say?” Bryan raised his eyebrows. “That’s a Type 3 hitch. Why, we could pull a huge boat,” he motioned with one hand into the air, “or a camper, or a big trailer, or, or, well, just about anything!”


Bryan glanced at me and sighed, obviously disheartened by my lack of enthusiasm.

Of course, I would have been more impressed if we actually had one of those things he mentioned. But we didn’t. No boat, no camper, no trailer, not even one of those little bike racks. Nothing. But, this fact didn’t seem to squelch Bryan’s joy. And I knew better than to point it out.

“Gee, it’s . . .” I searched for a word. “Lovely.”

The watermelon-look turned more like a prune.

I swallowed. Hard. Apparently, “lovely” is not a word you should use in conjunction with a man’s truck. I took a deep breath and tried again. “It looks very strong.”

Bryan’s face lit up again. “It can pull 5,000 pounds.”

Was that a lot? I didn’t know. I decided to take the leap. “Wow, isn’t that great. That’s a pretty powerful piece of equipment. I’m impressed.” I then proceeded to make the appropriate “oooo” and “ahhh” sounds.

Bryan’s grin returned, full force. Then, he knelt down to show me just how incredible that hitch really was, and how much we could now do with it. As he explained a variety of very important features that meant nothing at all to me, I realized something. He was happy. And I was happy. And that made our marriage just a little bit better.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. I discovered that being interested in the things that interest my husband shows him that I value him. I was reminded of Paul’s instruction in Philippians 2:4 (NIV): “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I had always thought that verse applied to the big, important things in life – like decisions about job opportunities, where the family would live, or where we would attend church. But as I stared at that hitch, I began to understand that God meant the verse for the less life-changing things too – even the small stuff that makes Bryan’s eyes light up and causes that little boy smile to dance over his face. Those things are important too. In other words, I’ve learned the value of being impressed with his toys. And using the right words - like strong, powerful, big, wow - doesn’t hurt either. Somehow, my being interested in steel bar with a hole in it, could communicate to Bryan I that care about him, that I really do love him.

Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t long before we found plenty of fun things to pull behind our Explorer.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Sick ... I mean New Year!

Hi Friends,

Well, what a way to start a New Year - everyone with the flu! (Though I have to admit, it's better than last year when I got kidney stones trying to pass on Jan. 4 and so began THAT saga. The flu is better than kidney stones any day.) But this has been quite an adventure.

On the upside, I now have numerous lovely clean spots on my floor where baby has heaved up whatever he just ate and I've raced to wipe it up while Bryan rushed him to the bath . . . again. I have several gigantic mounds of wonderful clean laundry, including three sets of sheets where Bria didn't quite make it into the bucket. And I've lost 4 pounds. I had hoped to start losing the baby weight, I just had planned to do it more through exercise than fifty trips to the bathroom. Ah well. Whatever works.

In the meantime, the whole incident reminded of a few years ago when Bryan had appendicitis. So, I looked back at an article I'd written about that time, and I found it a useful reminder for me for this new year. So, I thought I'd share those thoughts with you and maybe you'd find them as helpful as I have. Here ya go ... and may your new year be a healthy and happy one!

What I Learned From Bryan's Appendicitis:

The sight of my husband curled up on the bathroom floor should have been my first clue. After all, you don’t see a 6’3”, 240 lb. guy rolling around in fetal position every day.

I stepped through the door and touched my fingers to his shoulder. “Uh, are you okay?”

“Auurrgh.” He rolled over on his back and stared up at me.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just a little gas,” he wheezed. “I’ll be all right in a minute.”

A minute came and went. “Maybe you need to go to the hospital?”

“Nooooooo.” He waved his hand at me.

“What can I do?”

“Call the doc. Maybe it’s the antibiotics he prescribed last week.”

I did.

“Can I talk to him?” was the first thing the doctor said to me.

I poked my head back into the bathroom. “Doc’s on the phone.”

Bryan reached out his hand and grunted at me. A couple minutes later,
he hobbled out of the bathroom and handed back the phone. “Doc says I’d better get to the emergency room. Fast.”

My heart leapt to my throat and stomped out a rapid beat.

Eight hours later, they wheeled Bryan into the operating room for emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Just before he left the pre-op room, he raised a pale, shaky hand toward me. “Pray for me, huh?.”

I nodded. “I will.” My voice caught.

Then, they took him away, leaving me to do the waiting, the awful, interminable, watch-the-minutes-tick-by-like-hours waiting. Waiting filled with fear, worry, and scattered prayers. And in those quiet, endless minutes, with no crying baby, no yelling 3-year-old, no laundry, no phone, no work to be done, no to-do list a mile long, my prayers were strained, shallow, cold. I prayed as if I were talking to a stranger. What was wrong with me? Why was it so hard to pour out my fears to God and take refuge in Him?

That’s when I realized that my relationship with God had grown shallow over the days and months of busyness. I’d been doing many of the right things -- going to church, reading my Bible, praying for the needs of my family and friends. But somehow I had lost that intimate connection with God.

After a couple hours the doctor came out to the waiting room. His smile relieved the tension in my chest. “Surgery went well. No complications.”

“Did it . . .”

He shook his head. “No, the appendix didn’t burst.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “But I have to say, it was biggest, nastiest unburst appendix I’ve ever seen. The thing was this long.” He measured a span of about six inches with his fingers. “It had to have been cooking in there for a good week.”

“A week?”

“I suspect the antibiotics he was taking masked the symptoms. It’s a miracle it didn’t burst.”
I sat back down. A miracle . . .

“You’ll be able to see him in about a half hour. Someone will come get you.” The doctor strolled away.

A week. The antibiotics masked the symptoms. A miracle. Masked the symptoms . . . the words swirled through my mind. And finally I understood. Sometimes you don’t know you’re sick, either physically or spiritually. Sometimes the symptoms are masked. Just like the signs of appendicitis, my symptoms of spiritual sickness had been masked too, masked by my busyness.

So, during that half hour more of waiting, I prayed, thanking God for the miracle of an unburst appendix, and asking him to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In the weeks that followed, Bryan healed, and so did I. God helped me to find some quiet, reflective times to spend with Him. I began to get back to those deep places with God, places where I could rest in Him and know that He was healing the shallowness of my soul.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Soldier's Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt

Hi Friends,

Well, the Schalesky family rang in the New Year with a nasty bout of the flu. We're still reeling. But in the meantime, I have a book to tell y'all about - A SOLDIER'S DEVOTION by Cheryl Wyatt. So here ya go:


ISBN-10: 0373875754 Publisher: Steeple Hill (January 1, 2010)

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Vince Reardon was headed to a lifesaving mission. Until a too-pretty lawyer crashed her fancy car into his motorcycle—sidelining him for two weeks. Vince can barely accept Valentina Russo's heartfelt apologies. Ever since his brother was wrongly convicted—and killed in prison—Vince has lost respect for lawyers. But wait—is that Val volunteering at his refuge for underprivileged kids? If Vince isn't careful, this lady of the law might just earn his respect and his heart.


Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military and rescue 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. She is a Reviewers Choice Award Nominee. http://www.cherylwyatt.com/


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