Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Need to Know God's Will? Sumbibazw!

Hi Friends!

So today I'm thinking about what I might do next with my writing, and seeking God for wisdom and new vision, and I come across some notes about Acts 16:10 and a Greek word that my friend, Bill Risinger, shared with me from that verse. (And you know I LOVE New Testament Greek!). Anyway, I found the notes so helpful that I thought it would be fun to share them with yout too -- for anyone seeking God and desiring to following His will!

Well, in Acts 16, Paul and his group are going around the region of Phrygia and Galatia, while finding some places open to them and others that the Spirit is not allowing them to visit. Basically, Paul is trying to figure out where he should go and what he should do. Sound familiar? Don't we all need to figure out where God wants us to go and what He wants us to do? I do!

Then, in Acts 16:10, it says that Paul "sumbibazontes" (that's the Greek word - isn't it great?! You've got to say that one out loud! :-)) that God had called them to preach the good news in Macedonia. Sumbibazw (that's the simple verb form) doesn't just mean to decide on the one hand, or to "hear and obey" on the other. What it means is to "unite, bring together, hold together" to come to a conclusion.

I love that! Sumbibazw! Knowing what to do, seeking God's will, is not so much about making your own decisions NOR iis it about waiting for a direct command from God. It's about recognizing the things that God is doing in your life and bringing them together to determine the next step. It's about pulling together God's actions in all the parts of life and seeing how He is guiding you through it all. It's about being wise and discerning. It's about seeing the hand of God not just in prayer or Bible reading or church attendance (all of which are great), but in EVERY aspect of your life.

So, as you and I go about seeking God's will in our everyday lives, may we remember to sumbibazw! God is at work ... see Him. And in seeing Him, we'll sumbibazw what to do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Do You Blame When Your Blocks Fall?

Hi Friends!

First, if you haven't seen my WebTV interview with Shawneda Marks of Faithful Folios, check it out here: http://bit.ly/bSHeXq

Next, YAY for If Tomorrow Never Comes being named a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards (previously called Book of the Year).

And lastly, with the recent release of Shades of Morning, I've been talking a lot about regret vs. the power of God to transform the mistakes and failures in our lives for His glory and our good. But along with that idea comes the aspect of blame -- who do we blame when our "blocks" fall, when we face failure, when expectations aren't met, when life comes tumbling down around us.

So, I thought I would share this story about what I learned from a little boy in the church nursery about blame and God. Enjoy! And let me know what you think! Here ya go:

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!” he proclaimed.

“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 often get mad. When God asks me to do something and it doesn’t turn out the way I expect, I feel betrayed, angry, and even a little resentful. "God, how could you let me down?" I whine. In other words, I, too, 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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blind Hope by Kim Meeder

Hi Friends,

I have a new book to tell you about this week. I've just started it, so I won't offer a review, but will just tell you a bit about it. It's BLIND HOPE by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher. My friend Judy Gordon Morrow edited this book and tells me that it's a powerful true story of hope and healing.

Here's a bit about it:

An unwanted dog. An emotional rescue.Sometimes the life you save may be your own.

Laurie had her own shattered dreams before she came to work at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch—the ranch of rescued dreams—where broken horses and broken children encounter healing every day. Reaching out to save a dog in need, Laurie soon realized that the dog was rescuing her.

An inspiring true story told through the engaging voice of Kim Meeder, Blind Hope reveals poignant life lessons Laurie experienced from her ailing, yet courageous canine friend. Despite the blindness of her dog—and her own heart—Laurie uncovered what she really needed most: authentic love, unconditional trust, and true acceptance, faults and all.

As Laurie and her dog, Mia, both learned to follow the lead of a master they couldn’t see, Laurie discoverd the transforming power of God’s selfless love even for imperfect and selfish people—and she experienced a greater love than she has ever known.

“Love is a bridge that stands firm through difficulties and connects one heart directly to another, not because of how it looks, but because of what it is.” -Kim Meeder, Blind Hope

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Video - Insider's Scoop on Shades of Morning!

Hi Friends,

Want to see where I wrote most of Shades of Morning? Want to see the real horse that appears as "Misty" in the story? Or maybe you just want to hear me shouting "Go, Jewel, go!" at the Speedbarrels event at a local gymkhana show?

Whichever it is, check out the video below for some fun background information on Shades of Morning as well as insights into the themes and deeper meaning that went into the book. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon by Stephen Bly

Hi Friends,

Here's a new novel I wanted to tell you about this week - COWBOY FOR A RAINY AFTERNOON by Stephen Bly. Keep reading for more about it plus an interview with Steve.

A 10-year-old boy with red straw cowboy hat, cap gun, and silver-painted wooden bullets. Six story-telling, cribbage playing old cowboys. A ’49 Plymouth with open trunk. A damsel in distress. All the fixings for a summer’s day adventure at the Matador Hotel in 1954 Albuquerque.

Maybe you weren’t born 100 years too late!

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon is a twist on the traditional Western story.

In 1954, six men who spent their youth as cowboys in the Southwest, now gather at the Matador Hotel lobby in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, for weekly games of cribbage. One rainy afternoon, one of the men brings his grandson. They’re delighted with this captive audience. They all play cribbage and the men tell stories of their exploits in the old days. The eldest was born during the Civil War. All of them cowboyed from the late 1880s until the 1940s. They tell first-hand stories of what the West was truly like.

Many years later, the boy looks back and remembers the day he heard of a way of life and western tradition that’s quickly becoming extinct. He also recalls the lessons he learned and the excitement of a drama that unfolded before them that provoked the cowboys’ last stand.
This reminiscent account of real cowboy lives resonates like Andy Adams’ book, The Log of a Cowboy, written in the early 1900s.

Author’s suggestion: this book is best read aloud, as though around a campfire, by someone who gets the hang of the rhythm of the language.

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE: http://snipurl.com/z5n0g

Miscellany Quotes from Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon:

The Matador Hotel died on July 5th, 1965, but they didn’t bother burying it until last fall.

New Mexico heat blanketed Albuquerque that July like too many covers in a stuffy cabin. . .the kind of day that you sweat from the inside out and feel sticky dirt in places that you don’t ponder much except in the shower.

Cribbage and cowboys. . .I figured I fit right in.

The early May rain came down hard, the kind of cloudburst when the drops slap your face and you take it personal.

There’s a quiet buzz from antique ceiling fans, like six thousand crickets, all out of tune. You don’t even notice, until there’s silence.

Folks today think that 1954 existed in some other galaxy, on some other planet. Maybe they’re right. It’s hard to believe that world and this one are made of the same stuff.

“If you feel prodded, Shorty, it’s the shovel of the Lord. He’s diggin’ you up and intends on restorin’ you.”

Q. What is meant by the term “cowboy philosopher.” What is it about the “cowboy life” that lends itself to philosophizing and a closer walk with God?

A cowboy’s friendships were shaped by tough work and tragedy, companionship and daily battle with weather and critters. Only the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific would equal the old West in producing men of courage and character. This stark reality on the land, with lots of nights around a campfire and under the heavens, goaded them to storytelling, philosophizing, and wondering about God.

“Little Brother, a man don’t jump into the stream until he sees which way the water’s flowin’,” says a character in my newest release, Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (June 1st, hardback). It’s told from a 10-year-old boy’s point-of-view, but years later as an adult. He learns many life lessons one summer’s day in a lobby at the Matador Hotel in Albuquerque. He gets a graduate degree in cowboy philosophy.

Q. Why did you pick Albuquerque, New Mexico for your setting in this newest novel?

Because I’ve been there many times to vacation or do research. I enjoy this state very much. The only other place I’ve been that possesses such wonderful layers of culture stacked one upon another is Rome. The old cowboys at the Matador Hotel in Albuquerque share one layer of New Mexico’s history, a fairly modern era.

Every chapter I wrote in Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon made me miss New Mexico. The state motto is “land of enchantment.” But it’s more than a Chamber of Commerce slogan that tugs me. It’s an intriguing state to explore. This state’s ripe for numerous stories.

Q. How did you get the idea for Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon?

This novel is not based on my life, per se. However, what makes it personal, like a memoir: as a 10-year-old boy in 1954, I spent many afternoons playing cribbage with my grandpa, just like Little Brother in the novel. And I also heard many accounts about the “old days.” Many images from those times together in the 1950s embedded in my mind. I finally wrote about it.

Q. What was one of your challenges in writing Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon?

A rather technical one…Albuquerque is tough to spell right every time. In fact, it ranks #4 in the most misspelled list on none other than ePodunk.com. The other contenders are Cincinnati, Tucson and Pittsburgh. I finally started to get it right on the second draft by remembering an old song: A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E (Lyrics by Herb Hendler, Music by Ralph Flanagan ©1951). This made it easy enough for even a cowboy to spell.

Gotta go, gotta go back to New Mexico,where my true love waits for me.Gotta get on the trackscause I'm on my way backTo A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E.

The tune, of course, is integral to teaching the spelling. I can’t help you there, even if we met in person. But my musical wife could hum it just fine.

However, I did discover that there are definite advantages to setting a story mainly indoors, as most of this book is. It’s easier to research. Take New Mexico, for instance. . .as soon as I move my characters out into the woods, I’ve got to decide which tree they’ll hunker next to. Hey, it’s not easy to pick the right tree. Picking the right weed can be tougher. So, I stayed most the time inside the Matador Hotel. Except when all the main characters hop into that ’49 Plymouth with the open trunk.

Q. What other kind of genre would you be interested in writing besides westerns?

My wife and I have enjoyed writing together what she calls ‘cozy mysteries’. We did The Hidden West Series (contemporary) and The Carson City Chronicles Series (historical) and so much enjoyed the research on location and process. I’d be delighted to do more these with her.

Q. What’s next for you?

I’ve got a contract for a historical romance western, set on a train from Omaha to Sacramento, with the working title Throw Away Heart. In addition, I’m thinking through a mystery story set in the early 1900s on the Oregon coast on a golf course, starring Stuart Brannon, one of my early cowboy protagonists, as an old man. He’s invited to a golf tourney by friends and feels very awkward on the links, but finds plenty of adventures anyway. As ardent fans of my books know, Stewart Brannon makes some sort of cameo appearance or mention in every Stephen Bly novel, whether historical or contemporary.

Stephen Bly has published 103 books of historical and contemporary fiction (37 classic westerns) and Christian life and family nonfiction for adults, teens, and kids (9-14 yrs.). Eighteen books were co-authored with wife, Janet. Four of his novels were finalists for the Christy Award. His historical western, The Long Trail Home, won a Christy. The Blys have 3 married sons and 3 grandchildren and live in north-central Idaho at 4,000 ft. elev. on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.

Learn more about the Blys at their website http://www.blybooks.com/ or “On A Western Trail” blog http://www.blybooks.blogspot.com/ or follow then on twitter www.twitter.com/BlyBooks or friend them on Facebook (Stephen Bly or Janet Chester Bly).

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point) is available by order through your local bookstore (Ingram Distributors) or online http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.blybooks.com/ . You may also check it out at your local library.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Solve the Puzzle - Learn the Secret

Hi Friends,

I have a personal announcement to make, but instead of making it easy and just telling you, I thought it would be fun to share a simple puzzle. Solve the puzzle to find the word that reveals the secret of what crazy thing is going on in my life right now. So, who can solve it?

Here's the puzzle - it's a list of verses from the New International Version of Bible:

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.-- Psalm 103:1

Run with perseverance the race marked out for us. --Hebrews 12:1

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. -- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. – Philippians 3:12

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. -- Psalm 18:30

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. –2 Thessalonians 3:16

Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high.” --1 Samuel 2:1

The last verse is an additional clue. So, can you figure out the word that reveals the shocker?

Contest Winner and Miscarriage Article

Hi Friends,

Two things, and a bonus:

1) The winner has been announced for my SHADES OF MORNING Books & Brew Cuppa Contest! Check it out here: http://www.marloschalesky.com/books/fiction/contests/

2) My article on MISCARRIAGE is up on Crosswalk.com. Find it here: http://www.crosswalk.com/marriage/11634205/. And feel free to pass on the link to anyone you feel would benefit from the article.

Also, watch for a special offer in my next newsletter (so if you haven't signed up, now is the moment! Find the sign up box on the front page, right-hand column of my website at http://www.marloschalesky.com)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Throwing Stuff at God

Hi Friends,

Reminder - The Books & Brew Cuppa Contest (http://www.marloschalesky.com/books/fiction/contests/) ends Saturday, so get your entries in! Also, Saturday's the last day to get the free e-booklet, Crazy Kid Moments, when you buy Shades of Morning. (P.S. Stay tuned for some surprising personal news to be shared here soon!)

Meanwhile, I wanted to share a story that my friend, Sarah Stepanian, experienced about throwing our "stuff" at God. I was moved to draw closer to God, and I think you will be too. So, here ya go:

I watched as the little girl stood with a sponge dripping from her hand. Her brow furrowed. She chewed her lip. Around her, the sounds and smells of the church carnival swirled and beckoned. Children laughing, the whir of the cotton candy machine, the buttery scent of popcorn, and the music chirping from the cake walk around the corner.

And still the girl stood there. In front of her, a boy’s face peered out from a circle cut in a painted plywood board. “Come on,” he called to her, “throw it at me.” He stuck out his chin.

She looked at the sponge, then looked at the boy’s face. She squeezed the sponge, squeezed her jaw, squeezed closed her eyes. Then, she threw the sponge at him.

And missed.

She opened her eyes.

“Try again,” the boy called.

She picked up another sponge and threw it. It missed. A third, and missed again. Her shoulders slumped. Her lip quivered. She turned away.

The boy stuck his face further through the hole. “Don’t quit now. Come closer. Come on. Get closer to me.”

The girl turned back around and took one more sponge. Her hand trembled. She took a step forward.


Another step.

“Get a lot closer. Come right up to me. Come on, you can do it.”

Another step. A small one. And still, the girl didn’t look too sure. She glanced down at the sponge again, and then at the boy. And I could tell that the boy’s words were warring with her instincts. How could it be right to throw a wet sponge in someone else’s face? Didn’t her mom tell her never to throw things? And wasn’t the throwing line way back there anyway? And wouldn’t that boy, who was a lot bigger than her, be mad if she got close and threw that ol’ sponge right in his face?

“Closer! Get right up here by me.”

She edged up, an itty bit more.


And then, she took three fast steps until she stood right in front of the boy. She took a deep, frantic breath, and threw the sponge. It smacked into the boy’s face with a loud thwack. Water flew everywhere. Her eyes grew round.

And then, the boy laughed. She laughed. And I laughed too.

As I stood there, watching their happy faces, hearing their laughter, witnessing the water dripping harmlessly from the boy’s face, I discovered something about God. God is a lot like that boy in the sponge throwing game. And I’m a lot like that girl.

God calls to me, “Come closer to me. Come near.”

And I stand there with my wet sponge, with all my stuff and junk, worries and flaws. I stand far back and wonder if he’ll be mad if I throw all this stuff at him. And he’s a lot bigger than me. He’s God, after all.

Yet, all the while, God is beckoning me, urging me, telling me that he can handle any wet sponges that I throw in his face. He calls me, with my sponge in hand, to come as near as I can. To go ahead and throw my stuff at him. He’s not fazed by it.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you,” says James 4:8 (NIV). And again in Matthew 11:28 (NIV), Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened …,” all you who are carrying around worries, faults, sins, concerns, mistakes, fears, troubles, like heavy wet sponges. Come close. God’s not mad, or disgusted, or scared.

Instead, he’s calling us to come as close as we can. To bring our wet sponges because He can handle whatever we throw at him. And in the end, when we are near him, we just might end up with our sponges gone and laughter lighting our face.

Bride in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin

Hi Friends,

Here's a new book I have to tell you about this week - it's BRIDE IN TRAINING by Gail Gaymer Martin, and here's a bit about it:

Back Cover Blurb:

And Puppy Makes Three

Perfectionist Martin Davis's life is in turmoil. The lonely businessman's search for companionship led him to adopt a dog--a rather rambunctious terrier. And now Martin's at his wits' end. When dog trainer, Emily Ireland offers to help, Martin is grateful--and intrigued.But he's wary of getting too close to the sweet, pretty Emily, especially when he learns of her scandalous past. Can Martin ever open his heart to the possibility that Emily just may be his perfect bride?Bride In Training received 4 stars in the Romantic Times Book Reviews, and I was thrilled. So if you enjoy dogs, their antics and romance, I think you'll enjoy this series.

Award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes for Steeple Hill and Barbour with 44 published novels and over 3 million books in print . She writes women's fiction, romance and romantic suspense and is the author of Writing the Christian Romance, released by Writers Digest Books She is a cofounder of American Christian Gail was recently named Author of the Year by Barbour Publisher's Heartsong Presents readership. Gail is a popular speaker at churches and women's events and teaches writing at conferences across the U.S.