Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Hi Friends,

Wishing you a wonder-filled New Year! May your year be one in which you ...

1) Discover something new and wondrous about God

2) Discover something new and insightful about yourself

3) Discover something new and useful about your life

And may God overflow your life with His breathtaking wonder!

P.S. Only the Wind Remembers, a story about the wonder of God's love where you least expect it, is still available as an ebook for the sale price on Kindle/Nook.)
For Kindle: http://amzn.to/rNRMgy
For Nook: http://bit.ly/vL8AJv


Monday, December 26, 2011

Got a Kindle or Nook for Christmas??

Hi Friends,

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful day here. And, as my Christmas gift to you, I rushed last week to get my book ONLY THE WIND REMEMBERS up as a new ebook for Kindle and Nook at a special sale price! So, if you got a Kindle or Nook (or iPad, or whatever) for Christmas (or if you already had one), I hope you'll consider downloading Only the Wind Remembers for only $2.99. Yay!

Here are some links to the book:

For Kindle: http://amzn.to/rNRMgy

For Nook: http://bit.ly/vL8AJv

You can also download the free Kindle app for your PC and read ebooks from your computer. Here's the link for the free app: http://amzn.to/oNw3fJ

And here's the free Kindle app for your iPad: http://amzn.to/agJ2lC

And of course for a Mac, simply visit the app store and download the free Kindle app there.

And here's a bit about the book itself:

Making peace with the past...

Discovering the only love that heals...

Ishi: the last of his tribe, utterly alone in the white man's world.

Allison: abandoned as a child, haunted by dreams of a mother whose face she cannot recall.

In 1911, the last Yahi Indian walked out of the woods and into modern civilization for the first time. Driven from a life of hiding, Ishi longs for one thing: to tell a secret tale, a fable of his people that only he knows. Allison Morgan understands how important it is to obey the tenets of propriety, especially when her anthropologist husband is entrusted with the care of the last "Stone Age" Indian in North America. Yet something about Ishi stirs echoes of memories long forgotten, compelling her to defy the rules. Secretly, she learns Ishi's language. And then the tale begins, bringing with it the promise of hope long abandoned. But in the midst of renewed dreams, will a tangle of hidden motives, personal insecurities, and long-masked secrets destroy her once chance to discover the truth?

Based on actual historical events, Only the Wind Remembers invites you to a times when everything was not as it seemed, when a simple tale held the key to hope, when only the wind remembered what it meant to be free.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Merry Christmas, Friends! Wishing you a wonder-filled Christmas and wondrous New Year.

Be watching for news of a new ebook release from me (Only the Wind Remembers) at a special discount for your Kindle or Nook just after Christmas!

And in the meantime, here are the lyrics to a favorite Christmas song that I'm contemplating this Christmas. Do you know this song?...

"Mary Did You Know"

[Originally written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene]

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lessons from Disneyland

Hi Friends,

We took a family trip to Disneyland last week (very tiring, lots of fun), and here are some things I learned along the way:

Lesson #1 from Disneyland: You can walk all day and not be discouraged if you're excited about where you're going. So, be excited about where God is taking you in life!

Lesson #2 from Disneyland's Tower of Terror: Scary rides are better if you hang onto someone you love and trust. Cling to God when you feel like the bottom is dropping out of life. He'll see you through to a safe landing!

Lesson #3 from Disneyland: No one likes waiting, but sometimes you have to wait to get somewhere great. Trust God and enjoy those around you in the waiting times!

Lesson #4 from Disneyland: Don't let fear stop you from getting on a really good ride. God is taking you on the ride of your life - jump aboard! (Lesson from Bria who took 2 days to try Splash Mountain, then loved it.)

Last Lesson from Disneyland: Life can seem like endless trudging from here to there, waits that are way too long, exhausting days, restless nights ... but look around you. You are a part of the magic Kingdom. There is beauty everywhere. And the One walking and waiting with you created it all. Take time to catch your breath in wonder. Take time to See and Rejoice!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Novellas!

Hi Friends,

I have some fun Christmas books to tell you about this week. First, here's a Love Inspired Suspense called SEASON OF DANGER which contains two novellas.

Here's a bit about Silent Night, Deadly Night, the novella by Hannah Alexander:

After the murder of Tess Vance's fiance, Tess leaves her career as a musical talent agent and retreats home to her brother's rescue mission for the homeless in Corpus Christi, Texas. She finds solace helping others, and peace with ex-cop Sean Torrance, who has also endured great pain over the past year. Just as they begin to think life will settle for them, and their friendship will deepen into something more lasting, Tess finds herself the subject of a stalking, and the stalker hurts her by hurting and killing those she loves, including the homeless.

All of Sean's protective instincts rise to the top when the woman he has grown to love finds herself in danger once again. He'll do whatever it takes to protect her and the others he works with at the mission. As the owner and manager of one of the top radio stations in the region, he finds a way to stop the attacks, but it will mean betraying her trust. Can their relationship withstand the conflict?

AND here's a bit about Mistletoe Mayhem, the novella by Jill Elizabeth Nelson:

A romance-shy veterinarian and a widowed health inspector hunt the killer who used mistletoe extract to poison pets and people in a Tennessee mountain town.

After being jilted by her fiancé, Kelly Granger buries her broken heart in her work as a veterinarian in her home town of Abbottsville, Tennessee, located in the Great Smoky Mountains. She and her assistant, Tim Hallock, battle to save community pets from a violent and mysterious illness. Is this sickness a danger to humans? Her question is answered when state health inspector Matt Bennett is sent to investigate local eating establishments, including Kelly’s sister’s restaurant, for the cause of poisoning among the patrons. Kelly refuses to believe that her sister served toxic mistletoe extract to her customers—yet mounting evidence points in that direction. Kelly puts herself in harm’s way, facing down a vicious dog and even more vicious people, to uncover a common denominator between the human and animal illnesses. Matt has his hands full keeping up with her, as well as proving himself worthy of her trust—and hopefully, her love. Unless she has her heart set on her veterinary assistant, Tim Hallock. The question won’t matter if his investigation sends Kelly’s sister to jail. She’ll never have anything to do with him then. They need to uncover the truth. But will the answer cost them more than their romance? Will it cost them their lives?


Kelly Granger stared into Nick Milton’s bloodshot eyes and suppressed a shiver. It wouldn’t do to betray her fear of him, any more than to give that advantage to a wild animal.

Beefy face taut, Nick leaned toward her over the counter of the veterinary clinic’s reception area. “If my dog don’t perk up and shake off that drug you pumped into him, I’ll come lookin’ for you. He’s been layin’ around all afternoon, worthless as a tick.”

The slurred words betrayed the alcohol he pickled himself in daily. How did Chelsea live with this guy?

“Mr. Milton, Brutus’s behavior posed a danger to himself, the staff and other animals. In order to give him his check-up and vaccinations, it was necessary to administer a mild sedative first. I assure you, he will be himself by morning, barring a little stiffness in the vaccination site, which will also disappear.”

There, she’d delivered a reasonable explanation, and her voice didn’t even quiver. If she’d discovered any sign of abuse on Nick’s Doberman, she would have turned the dog over to the SPCA to get the animal away from his disgusting owner.

“Highfalutin, la-de-da doctor!” Nick shook a ham-sized fist in her face. “I’m holdin’ you to them words.”

Kelly gripped the edge of the counter. She would not back away. This creep might have a reputation for temper, but she was not going to be cowed. This was her clinic, and she’d done nothing wrong . . . except send her assistant, Tim Hallock, home early. Tim might be half Nick’s size, but at least he could have called the cops.

Nick turned and stomped out the door, admitting a burst of chill air, which washed over Kelly. She allowed herself a shiver. Some people needed a muzzle and leash more than their pets. She wouldn’t mind calling the police to let them know that Nick Milton was driving drunk again, except he wasn’t driving.

The Milton’s beat-up van sat in a parking spot outside the clinic’s picture window. Nick’s son, Greg, perched behind the wheel. Kelly’s glance met the teenager’s, and kid offered his usual juvenile leer. She marched to the door and turned the deadbolt as the van chugged out of the parking lot, spewing dark smoke from its tailpipe.

Releasing a breath, she looked out the picture window, which revealed a panorama of white-topped mountain ridges looming over the struggling business district. Even with Christmas nearly upon them, traffic was thin this early evening. Vehicle headlights vied with the twinkle of Christmas lights adorning the facades of buildings. Thankfully, no one seemed headed for the veterinary clinic. She’d dealt with enough excitement for one day.

Brutus had been the easiest patient—a routine well-check. Six other pets, cradled by distraught owners—one of them Kelly’s sister—had been presented this afternoon, each animal exhibiting the same awful symptoms. She was keeping most of them overnight on IVs to rehydrate them. Her patients would live, but more by the grace of God than human skill. She’d never seen anything like it and prayed she never would again.

Had Tim remembered to prepare the biological samples for submission to the state lab? They needed to discover what had made the pets so ill.

Kelly headed for the pharmacy, loafers squeaking faintly on the linoleum. Her pharmacy was more like a large closet than a room. The package lay wrapped and labeled on the counter. Kelly smiled. Reliable was Tim’s middle name.

A note in his handwriting sat by the box. She picked it up and read, “Courier service unable to make the pick-up until late tomorrow afternoon. One of the hazards of living in a Tennessee mountain town.”

Kelly groaned. Compared to the frenzy of her Nashville vet school experience, she’d loved returning to the gracious pace of life in Abbottsville, nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. But around here, tomorrow was soon enough for anything to happen. Might as well get home and put her feet up.

On the drive to her modest bungalow, her thoughts refused to wind down. What if the illness was an epidemic—something bacterial . . . or even viral? Or maybe it was as simple as a contaminated batch of pet food? But what if this was a contagion that could affect people? What if . . . Whoa, girl! No point in stressing over what had hit the pets in Abbottsville until the lab returned results.

Darkness had fully fallen when she turned the final corner onto her street. She accelerated and then eased off the gas pedal. What was up with this? The automatic timer on her Christmas lights should have had her place aglow with festive decorations, but the single-story home was dark. A faulty timer? Better than some expensive electrical issue. It wasn’t a power outage. The porch light glowed on the two-story house next door, but no holiday decorations. Probably because her yet-to-be-seen neighbor had moved in only yesterday.

Kelly wheeled the Explorer into the driveway, and the headlights passed over a scene of Christmas decoration carnage strewn across her snow-dusted lawn. What in the world? She halted the SUV at an angle and scanned the mess of tinsel, strings of lights, straw from the crèche and holly and pine garland. Her stomach knotted. Who would do such a thing? Then she spotted the vandal, and her jaw dropped.

Excerpt. © Jill Elizabeth Nelson, 2011. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Available at fine bookstores everywhere, plus outlets at Walmart and Target, as well as on-line bookstores.

For more information and a chance to win a signed copy of the book, drop by http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0373444699/jillelizabeth-20 CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK NOW!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tantrum at Disneyland?

Hi Friends,

In honor of our upcoming Disneyland trip with the family, I thought I'd share an experience that happened a few years ago on another trip to Disneyland (plus some pictures from our previous trip too).

It happened like this (names have been changed to protect the guilty :-)):

"No! I don't wanna go!" Katy pushed out her lower lip and drew her eyebrows into a dark scowl. "I want Splash Mountain!" Her face wrinkled into a mask of stubborn fury.

Katy's look was so at odds with our surroundings that I had to shake my head. We were in Disneyland, where laughter and fun were the order of the day. How could anyone be gloomy when Mickey Mouse, Snow White, or Goofy stood on the corner to bring smiles to every face? After all, this was the Magic Kingdom.

"We'll go there next," Katy’s mother whispered. "But first, we're going on the Pirate ride. You'll like it."

"No!" Katy stomped her foot as we got in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Soon, we were stepping into the big boats that would take us on our magic ride through pirate country. The soft music of crickets and water gently lapping against the sides of our boat did not calm Katy's angry spirit. She continued to glower. She refused to look around as we glided through the bayou. Her little sister cried out in delight and pointed to the tiny lights that were meant to be fireflies. Still, Katy didn’t budge. Even the pirate treasures did not interest her. She didn't "ooo" and "ahhh" as we floated through the middle of the big pirate battle, with cannon balls flying across our bow to land on either side. She didn't laugh at the rosy-cheeked man being dunked in the well or the pirates
chasing women through the windows of the town. She wouldn't join in as we all lifted our voices to sing "Yo ho, yo ho, it's a pirate's life for me."

Nothing got through to her. Even as we came around the last bend, still humming the pirate song, her frown had not dissipated. We all tumbled from the boat, the other children laughing, giggling, and excitedly talking about what they had seen. But not Katy. Despite all the magic of Disneyland, especially in the Pirates of the Caribbean, she was still mad.

I again glanced down at her small, grumpy face. Then, I stopped short as recognition whispered through me. She looked – gulp - an awful lot like me. In
fact, I was sure I had worn that same expression just a few weeks ago at church. I remembered the morning well. I had been scheduled to make an announcement about the women’s retreat at the beginning of the service, but the pastor said we didn’t have time. Then the worship team had cut my favorite hymn in order to put in some frothy chorus. And to top it off, the pastor shortened the time when we usually had prayer requests, but he left plenty of time for greeting one another. Nothing had gone the way I wanted it. I wanted Splash Mountain, not the Pirates!

Cold realization formed a lump in my chest as I grabbed Katy’s hand and headed out the ride’s exit. Had I been as silly as her, sticking out my lower lip at all the fun of the Magic Kingdom?

After all, Sunday morning services should be as joyful and fun-filled as Disneyland. I went to church to worship my God and Savior, to learn more about Him, and to enjoy His presence with others who love Him too. What could be better than that? Yet, instead of relishing the special time of gathering together in God's house, I was just as unhappy as Katy because everything didn’t go my way. I, too, had allowed selfishness to creep into my heart, so that I couldn’t enjoy the ride God was taking me on. What a shame!

These days, I try to remember Paul’s instructions: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4, NIV) That way, I can laugh and appreciate God’s Sunday morning Pirate rides, whether I’d rather be at Splash Mountain or not.

Monday, November 28, 2011

His Holiday Family by Margaret Daley

Hi Friends,

Here's the new novel I wanted to tell you about this week. It's HIS HOLIDAY FAMILY, a Love-Inspired romance by Margaret Daley, who has this to say about it:

When I decided to write a series about a town that goes through a hurricane, I wanted to give tribute to all the people who have gone through a disaster and rebuilt their lives. This series was written for the heroes and heroines who help others in a time of disaster.

Blurb for His Holiday Family by Margaret Daley:

When Hurricane Naomi tears through a small Mississippi town, a daring rescue unites two heroes. Nurse Kathleen Hart is a single mom racked by guilt over her husband's death. Firefighter Gideon O'Brien—orphaned as a young boy—has lost too many people he cared for. To rise above the storm's devastation, Gideon helps Kathleen and her sons rebuild their home. As Christmas approaches, they discover that even the strongest of storms can't destroy a romance built on the foundation of faith.

Excerpt from His Holiday Family:

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Gideon O'Brien hopped down from Engine Two and assessed the chaos in front of him. Strapping on his air pack, he started toward his captain. A hand gripped his arm and stopped his forward progress. He turned toward the blonde woman who held him, her large blue eyes glistening with tears. She looked familiar, but he couldn't place where he knew her from. His neighbor's daughter, perhaps?

"My two sons and my cousin—their babysitter—must still be inside. I don't see them outside with the other tenants." Her voice quivered. She tightened her hand on his arm and scanned the crowd. "I'm Kathleen Hart. My sons are Jared and Kip. I tried Sally's cell but she didn't answer. Please get them out." A tear slipped down her cheek.

"Where are they?" Gideon moved toward his captain, his palm at the small of her back, guiding her in the direction he wanted her to go. Yes, he realized, she was his neighbor Ruth Coleman's daughter.

"Sally's second-floor apartment is on the east side, the fourth one down on your right. Number 212. Hurry." Her round eyes fastened on the fire consuming the three-story apartment building on Magnolia Street.

Gideon paused in front of Captain Fox. "Mrs. Hart says her sons and babysitter are still inside. Pete and I can go in and get them." He looked toward the west end of the large structure where the men of Engine One were fighting the flames eating their way through the top level. "There's still time."

"Okay." His captain surveyed the east end. "But hurry. It won't be long before this whole building goes up."

The scent of smoke hung heavy in the air. The hissing sound of water hitting Magnolia Street Apartments vied with the roar of the blaze.

Gideon turned toward the mother of the two boys. "We'll find them." He gave her a smile then searched the firefighters for Pete.

When Gideon found him a few feet away, he covered the distance quickly. "Let's go. There are three people trapped on the second floor. East end."

At the main entrance into the building Gideon fixed his mask in place, glancing back at the blonde woman standing near his captain. He had seen that same look of fear and worry many times over his career as a firefighter. He wouldn't let anything happen to her sons and Sally.

Gideon switched on his voice amplifier and headed into the furnace with Pete following close behind him. Through the thick cloud suspended from the ceiling in the foyer, the stairs to the second floor loomed. Crouching, he scrambled up the steps. The higher he went, the hotter it became.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tasting the Turkey

Hi Friends,

Just had to share my turkey story to give you a little something to think about this Thanksgiving. Our family likes to remember this story before every Thanksgiving meal.

Are you tasting the turkey??? ...

"Yum!" It was Thanksgiving day and I was in the kitchen, sneaking bits of turkey while no one was looking. To my ten-year-old mind, nothing could compare to Mom’s perfectly cooked turkey. I stuck my fingers into the warm juice and pulled off another piece.

"Ahhh," I sighed and smiled. It was delicious. I glanced around then snatched another bite.

This is my favorite part of Thanksgiving, I thought, licking my fingers as the turkey juices dripped down my hand. I loved to sample the little pieces of turkey that fell to the bottom of the pan during cooking. It was like a special, tasty prize that made my mouth water just to think about it. I jammed a fourth piece of turkey into my mouth and rubbed my belly, enjoying the dual pleasures of taste and smell.

At my Sunday School three days later, Pastor Ron visited our class. He sat down on the stool in front and straightened his collar. His eyes swept over the students. "Let me tell you a story," he began. "There was a man named Joe. Joe spent his life doing stuff that was very bad. He drank. He gambled. He lived a wild life. He swore all the time and never went to church. When he ran out of money, he robbed a store and then continued his bad living. On his death bed, Joe knew he was going to die, so he begged God for forgiveness and decided to trust in Jesus. That night, Joe died and went to Heaven, the same as if he had loved and served God all his life. What do you think of that?"

"Hey, that's not fair!," I burst forth. My cheeks grew red with annoyance.

"No, it's not fair," he agreed. "Not fair to Joe.”

“To Joe?” I questioned. “What do you mean?”

“I mean it's not fair because Joe missed the greatest joys in life."

"But he was bad!” I exclaimed, sputtering in confusion. “If he could get into heaven, why should I bother to do what I’m told? I may as well go out and rob a store too!”

My Pastor smiled. “Do you really think so?”

I lowered my head and stared at my feet. Then, I shrugged my shoulders.

Pastor Ron cleared his throat.

I looked up at him again. His mouth was quirked in a strange half-grin.

"Tell me," he continued, "have you ever sneaked into the kitchen to taste a little bit of turkey before the Thanksgiving meal?"

I drew a quick breath and nodded my head. My eyes grew wide in shock. How had he known? I remembered back to my time in the kitchen just three days before. Yes, I knew very well what it was like to taste the turkey. It was great!

"Well," he said, glancing at the rest of the class, "that's just what it's like for you and me. All the time we spend serving God in this life is just like sneaking into the kitchen to taste the turkey. We get a little taste of heaven before the great banquet. Joe, on the other hand, doesn't get to taste the turkey in this life. He has to wait. Just think of all the fun he missed out on here in this life."

"Wow," I whispered, "I never thought of it like that.

Pastor Ron chuckled. "Now, every time you sneak a bit of turkey, you can think about the fact that every day you spend serving God is a little taste of heaven here on earth."

To this day, I still sneak my little bit of turkey before the Thanksgiving meal, and every time I thank God for another day spent in His love, tasting the turkey of Heaven.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Essence of Spiritual Life

Hi Friends,

In my reading this week, I came across this passage on the essence of spiritual life written by Evelyn Underhill. The thoughts and observations struck me, especially today as I'm preparing to have lots of girls over for
our Christian Cowgirl sleepover event. Today, it's very tempting to surrender to "the busy click-click" of life, just as Evelyn warns against.

Anyway, here is what she says:

"Thousands of devoted men and women today believe that the really good part is to keep busy, and give themselves no time to take what is offered to those who abide quietly with Christ; because there seem such a lot of urgent jobs...to do. The result of this can only be a
maiming of their human nature, exhaustion, loss of depth and of vision; and it is seen in the vagueness and ineffectuality of a great deal of the work that is done for God. It means ...surrender to the busy click-click of the life of succession; nowhere, in the end, more deadly than in the religious sphere. I insist on this because I feel, more and more, the danger in which we stand of developing a lopsided Christianity; so concentrated on service, and on this-world obligations, as to fofrrget the needs of constant willed and quiet contact with that other world, where fro mthe sections of service and the power in which to do it proceed. We mostly spend those lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, and to Do. Craving, clutching, and fussing, on the material, polical, social, emotional, intellect ual - even on the religious - plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest: forgetting that none of these verbs has ultimate significance, expect so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, having, and doing, is the essence of a spiritual life."

A little dense reading-wise, but good stuff! I find that I can easily get caught up in the to-do list and fail to just "be" before God. And then, just like she says, I lose depth and vision.

So, a prayer for us: Lord, help us all to Be first, to connect with You, to bask in the wonder of Your presence. May we resist the temptation to want and have and do before we want You, have You, and rest in You!

A blessed weekend, filled with some quiet moments to enjoy God and be at peace before him to you!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reading C.S. Lewis

Hi Friends,

This week I've been reading Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Great stuff! So, I thought it would fun to share a few of my favorite quotes from my reading this week. Here ya go:

1) From Screwtape Letters (remember this is the demon Screwtape talking to his nephew Wormword): "We want him [Wormwood's 'patient' that they are trying to lure from his faith] to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [i.e., God]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

2) Also from Screwtape Letters, Screwtape's instruction to his nephew, Wormwood: "You must bring him [the 'patient'] in which he can pacts self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office."

3) From Mere Christianity: "We must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along -- illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us."

4) Along the same lines form Mere Christianity: "If we let Him - for we can prevent Him, if we choose - He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a ... dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very panful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said."

Do you have a favorite C.S. Lewis quote?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's Up With Marlo's Writing...

Hi Friends,

Just wanted to give y'all a little update about what's going on with my writing so you can pray! So, here's the scoop:

1) I've completed the rough draft of the proposal for the nonfiction book I've been wanting to write -- the book that takes a close look at the life of Mary to talk about how to face hard times and be transformed. So far, the working title is HIGHLY FAVORED: Living the Life You Never Dreamed. Of course, it will probably be retitled a few times before making it into print! The proposal is on my agent's desk now. If he gives me the go-ahead, I'll write some sample chapters and then we'll start looking for the right publisher. Prayers appreciated for all of those steps!!

2) In the meantime, I'm starting work on a new fiction proposal. This week on my Facebook page I asked readers whether they preferred romantic suspense or straight romance. So far, the votes are leaning more heavily toward suspense (feel free to weigh in on your preference if you haven't done so already!). I have some preliminary ideas stirring, and I'm hoping a few will gel and I'll be able to get a proposal done soon for a new fiction project as well (wouldn't that be fun?!).

3) I'll be speaking about writing at the Castro Valley writers' seminar on Feb. 18th. I'm also the speaker for the Carmel Presbyterian Church's upcoming women's retreat on March 16-18. I'll be speaking on the topic of ... HIGHLY FAVORED: Recapturing Wonder When Life Goes Awry. The retreat will be at Mount Hermon, and it's looking like it will be a great time.

So, that's the latest. Please be praying for me when God brings me to mind!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thoughts on Walking in the Dark

Hi Friends,

A number of my friends and family are walking through the darkness in their lives right now. As I've been thinking about them and praying for them, I've also been thinking about the three alternatives for walking through the dark. I believe that everyone has to face the darkness at times in their lives. But what we do in those times, our choices about how to respond make a huge difference in where we end up. So, here are a few quick thoughts on those three options:

1) There are those who deny the darkness, clai
m it doesn't exist, put on a happy face and believe that faith is just saying "God is good, all the time" as a way to run from the pain of dark times. They don't want to face doubts, to ask the hard questions, to allow their hearts to be broken by sorrow. Deep down, they fear their faith will be broken, too, if they allow any doubts or questions to surface. The only problem is that those who don't face the darkness, those who try to skirt around it, also skirt around God's efforts to help them grow deep with Him. They stick with their comfortable cliched faith, and that’s pretty much where they’ll stay.

2) There are those who God calls deeper, but in the face of the pain and darkness they turn away. They try to lessen the discomfort by turning to other things, distracting themselves to try to protect themselves … perfectly reasonable, except it results in a hardened heart, and they end up enduring the pain without gaining its rewards.

3) Then, there are those who God calls deeper, and they beat their fists bloody on His chest as they fight, struggle, doubt, hurt, w
restle, complain, cry out, accuse, rant, rave, rage, weep … these are the Jobs and Davids, the Habakkuks … they are the ones who say the wildest things, express their hearts with shocking honesty, they lay bare the wounds and face God will all the confusion, hurt, and doubt in their souls. But that’s the difference, they face Him. Always facing Him. And in time, they are changed forever. They glimpse the wonder, they put their hands over their mouths … they see God as they never could have before, and somehow they’re glad of it. And, when they say “God is good” it’s no longer a cliché, it’s a statement born out of the darkness, and it means something completely different than the same words spoken by those who have never come through that dark night. It’s a deep and profound thing. They have come through the darkness and discovered incredible light.

And that, I think, is the hope offered to all who walk in the dark. That’s why we keep fighting on even when we can't see … because there is no other way to get to that other side, there is no other way to come to that place where we’ll see Him as we never could have before.

So, for everyone who now finds themselves facing a time of darkness, hang on, hang in there, and keep facing Him through it all. There is light on the other side ... I promise, and so does He.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christmas Gifts by Gail Gaymer Martin

Hi Friends,

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

including Small Town Christmas
Love Inspired Duet - November 2011
Mini-Matchmakers And An Old Fashion Christmas
When the new second grade teacher, Amy Carroll, meets the precocious twin sisters, she knows she has her hands full, but when she learns they live on the street where she is staying with her grandmother and they have a single father who is handsome and needs help, Amy’s hands are beyond full. But Amy’s from Chicago and falling in love with a small town man is not part of her plan. Can God waylay Amy’s desire to return to the big city? Can Mike Russett open his heart to love?
Martin’s story contains strong characters and touching scenes - Romantic Times
Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Love Inspired and Barbour Publishing, where she was honored by Heartsong readers as their Favorite Author of 2008. Gail has forty-nine contracted novels with over three million books in print. She is the author of Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations and presents workshops at conference across the US. She was recently named one of the four best novelists in the Detroit area by CBS local news.
This duet novel also includes Brenda Minton's Her Christmas Cowboy
Excerpt Chapter 1
“Mrs. Fredericks.” The office secretary leaned into the room. “Mr. Russet is here to see you.”
“The twins father.” A heavy sigh whisked the air. “Ask him to wait a moment.”
Amy took another step toward the door. No doubt the sigh signaled trouble.
“Please wait a moment, Miss Carroll. “The twins will be in your class. It might help you to meet the girls. They have a propensity for getting into trouble.” She motioned.
“They’re right across the hall in the cafeteria. It’ll give you a heads-up for Monday.”
Trouble. Amy swallowed. “I suppose that would be. . .practical.”
“Yes, and you’ll keep an eye on them while I talk with their father.” She chuckled and motioned her to follow.
Amy followed her across the hall and spotted the girls seated on each side of a cafeteria bench, cuter and sweeter looking than she’d imagined. Though not identical twins, their features were similar with bright Caribbean blue eyes.
The child with a tawny ponytail swung her legs over the bench. “It wasn’t me, Mrs. Fredericks.”
“Yes, it was.” The blonder twin slipped from her seat, her hair gathered into a ponytail on each side of her head. “Holly tore up my drawing in art class.”
“Please sit for a moment.” She gestured to the benches. “I want you to meet someone.”
They scrutinized Amy with a mix of speculation and determination. “Miss Carroll. This young lady is Holly.” She rested her hand on the one with honey brown hair and the deep frown. “And this is Ivy.”
Ivy gazed at her, curiosity written on her face.
Holly and Ivy? Amy wondered. She stepped closer. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Neither responded.
Mrs. Fredericks eyed them. “Miss Carroll will be your new teacher on Monday.”
Holly’s ponytail flipped as she swivelled toward Amy while Ivy stared at her wide-eyed.
“I’ll leave you with Miss Carroll, and you can have a nice talk.” She turned to Amy. “I’ll be back shortly.” She strode away but paused before exiting. “When I return, I’ll introduce you to the girl’s father. I’m sure you’d like that.”
“Our dad?” Two voices rang in unison.
Amy wasn’t sure she wanted her first parental contact to be with an irritated father, but she offered a nod. When she turned, the twins were peering at her again, Holly with her arms crossed at her chest and Ivy with her fist jammed into her waist.
She slipped around the end of the bench and sat at the table. Behind those sweet faces, Amy sensed sadness. She looked from one girl to the other. “What are you doing in the cafeteria.”
Holly looked away. “Mrs. Fredericks made us sit here.”
“Hmm?” Amy tapped her finger against her cheek. “I wonder why?”
Ivy bit her lip. “Kids who misbehave have to sit in here and wait.”
Holly’s frown deepened. “I didn’t do anything bad.”
Ivy pressed her face closer to Holly’s, her look searing through her sister. “You tore up my drawing.”
“But you said it wasn’t any good.”
Ivy fell back to her seat. “If I wanted to tear it up, I would have done it.”
“That’s right, Ivy.” Amy focused on Holly, monitoring her tone. “What kind of pictures were you drawing?”
Holly’s shoulders relaxed. “Pictures of Pilgrims and Indians for our social studies.”
Amy nodded. “For Thanksgiving.” Blending learning with fun was good classroom planning.
“Uh-huh, and. . .” A movement by the door caught her attention.
“Daddy.” The girls shot from the bench and ran to a harried looking man who stood inside the doorway, his hands tucked in his jacket pockets.
Amy’s heart gave a twinge. A five o’clock shadow encompassed his lean jaw, his chestnut hair tousled as if he’d run his fingers through it many times. His straight eyebrows stretched above his caramel brown eyes, flashing with emotion.
He rocked on his heels. “You must be Miss Carroll, the new teacher.” He strode toward her. “I’m the girls’ father, Mr. Russet. It’s nice to met you.” Frustration winked behind his pleasant grin.
Amy met him halfway while the twins hovered at his side. She dropped her palm into his, aware of his warm grip. “Good to meet you, too.”
Behind him Mrs. Fredericks grinned. “I’ll see you on Monday, Miss Carroll.” She gave her a wave and vanished.
When she looked back, the man studied her with curiosity. “I’m sure we’ve met.”
Amy drew back. “Met?”
“Years ago at Ellie Carroll on Lake Street.”
“Yes, that’s it.” Amy’s memory gave a tug.
“We live across the street.” The twins voices melded together.
“She stood bewildered.
His grin widened. “Maybe eleven years ago.”
“I don’t think so.” Yet a memory shimmered in her mind. “I was eighteen then.”
“I was twenty-three, working as a handyman.” He grinned. “Maybe you’ll remember me as Mike.”
“Mike?” The recollection jarred her. “You dug out Grams old shrubbery and planted new ones.” She pictured him in the summer sun, his muscles flexing while his shirt hung on a deer ornament in the tree-sheltered yard.
“The same.”
Amy studied his face. His unruly hair hadn’t changed. She remembered how it ruffled in the breeze, his lean handsome face taut with concentration. She’d flirted with him. But when she went inside, her grandmother notified her he was newly married. Heat rose up Amy’s neck with the recollection. She hoped he didn’t remember she’d toyed with him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When God Seems Late...

Hi Friends,

I enjoyed these thoughts from author friend Jennifer Slattery today:

Have you ever felt like God forgot about you? Like when you’re caught in an impossible situation with nowhere to go, searching for the life line that never seems to come? Maybe your rope got stuck in the parcel post or passed through a few too many hands along the way. But it doesn’t matter. You’re in a bind and you need God. Now. But then, when you least expect it, God does show up, and contrary to your panicked thoughts, the world didn’t end. In fact, once the storm passes and you take a step back, you realize God was there all the time. And He really did know what He was doing.

I’m always in a hurry. I’m about as far from a procrastinator as you can can get, unless of course we’re talking about errands. But other than that, I’m on constant overdrive. Not because I’m terribly ambitious, but because I can’t let go of the reigns. I expect things to get done a certain way and in a certain period of time. When they don’t I hit panic mode. And I could rationalize it a million ways, but ultimately it comes down to lack of trust. It’s like I forget that God is bigger than His creation, which includes my tiny little role in it.

Which is why I love the Bible passage about Martha and Lazarus. Martha and I would have been great friends. Or at least a highly efficient team. Although I’m sure our anxious thoughts and frantic behaviors would have given us both a migraine.

In John chapter eleven, we are told that Martha’s brother is sick. And what did you do in first century Palestine when someone you loved fell ill? You sought out the Healer, of course. And I imagine if He was a close friend of the family, as Jesus was to Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, you’d expect a rather quick response. But what does Jesus do when he learns of Lazarus’ illness? He tarried, on purpose. Didn’t He love Lazarus? Verses five and six say He did: “So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, He stayed where He was for the next two days.”

When He finally arrives at Lazarus’ home in Bethany, it’s too late. Lazarus is dead. Martha is distraught, and even accusatory.

John 11:21 “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died.’”

Translation: God, You’re too late.

Lazarus had been dead for three days. Martha’s faith and hope had come and gone. She’d gone from fervent prayers to mourning.

Jesus’ response? I’m bigger than that, Martha.

John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life.”

And we know the rest of the story. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and God’s power was revealed. And I’m sure when it was done Martha could have kicked herself for her lack of faith. Just like I frequently kick myself for mine. But the account of Lazarus has a way of bringing me back to reality. The God that made me, that saved me, is bigger than anything I could face. And His timing is always perfect.

So what happens when God is late? Now that is a question without a logical answer, my friend. The more rational question would be, when is God late? And my response would be never, even if it appears things have regressed to the point of decay.

Find out more about Jennifer at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Adopting Mugsy ...

Hi Friends,

Well, if you haven't heard, we did something crazy this week. On Saturday, the Christian Cowgirl (youth) group went to the Valley View Ranch Equine Rescue adoption event at the rodeo grounds. There, we learned about how they rescue horses from being shipped out of the country to slaughter and saw about 30 horses that were ready for adoption. (Find out more at www.valleyviewranchequinerescue.org)

On Sunday, our family went back to see which horses were adopted so we could let the cowgirl group know. AND ... that's when the crazy happened. [NOTE: If you're the parent of one the Cowgirls, don't tell what we did - Bethany wants to surprise her friends! :-))

Yep, you guessed it, we brought home a cute little solid Paint gelding named Mugsy, age 1 1/2. How could I resist when the girls huddled together to see if they had enough money saved up, all together, to adopt the sweet little guy. And even Bria, age 6, whose been
saving for a bike for months and months and months, went up to her Daddy and said, "Daddy, I don't need a bike. I want to get the horsie." So, they went into his pen, brushed him, petted him, handled him, and he loved it.

And that's how I lost my mind! And found a new horse.

But it was a good reminder of what God did for us ... we were alone, abandoned, headed for slaughter. But God adopted us into His family ... but not for free, we were bought for a price! Jesus gave everything He had to save us. And now, we are HIS!

So this week, we're giving Mugsy what he needs - wormer that he thinks is nasty but it made him clean, food, water, and today the vet comes out for his vaccines (which he also won't like, but it will help him grow and be healthy).

So it is with God. Once we are His, he cleans us up and cleans us out (and that ain't always pretty, easy, or pleasant!). And He gives us what we need to grow.

As you go about your week, I hope you'll think of Mugsy ... and remember, God loves you not only enough to pay everything to rescue you, but also to give you what you need to become who you need to be - no matter how yucky that medicine may be!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Building A Family by Lyn Cote

Hi Friends,

Here's the book I wanted to tell you about next week (a little early). It's Building a Family by Lyn Cote. Here's a bit about it:

Lawyer Eleanor Washburn defends wayward teenagers and supervises volunteers for Habitat for Humanity without missing a beat. But she is unnerved by fascinating single dad Pete Beck—especially since his chaotic life includes a little girl wishing for a mother. Sweet Cassie has Eleanor yearning for what's been missing from her lonely existence. Soon, both dad and daughter are chipping away at Eleanor's defenses. Can she find the courage to risk losing her heart to this ready-made family?

Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul

Hi Friends,

Here's the book I wanted to tell you about this week. It's THE DRAGONS OF THE WATCH by Donita K. Paul. And here's a bit about it:

The Chronicles of Chiril continue as Ellie and Bealomondore find themselves trapped in an isolated city guarded by dragons and separated from everything they know and love. How can they escape? Along the way they meet a group of wild children and a very old man, whose needs they must meet before they can find their way home. With the help of the dragons of the watch, they discover that their fate depends upon their ability to recognize and step in line with the Creator’s will.

About the Author:

Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

When Life Goes Awry...

Hi Friends,

I'm working on a proposal for a new nonfiction book that I hope will encourage you in your life journey with Jesus. (No title yet ... I'll let you know when I come up with something better than "Think of Really Good Title"). Anyway, here are some ideas I'm working with for the new nonfiction book proposal. See what you think! ...

So, is your life going just as you hoped and planned? No? Well, me neither. In fact, when people ask me for a sentence that defines my life I tell them it's this: "Your plans? Ha ha!" says God.

But I also find that I'm in good company. In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. If there's anyone whose life was the opposite of her hopes and plans, it was hers. Yet, I also think about the wonder she witnessed. Both wonder and disappointment. Beauty and sorrow. She touched it. Lived it. Embodied the journey of us all.

There she was, engaged, planning on a nice, quiet, happy life. And boom, an angel appears. Forget your plans, he says, God’s got different ones. You’re having a baby, and it's not gonna be your husband’s. You get to have God’s son. I suspect being unwed and pregnant was soooo not part of her plans!

But Mary reacts pretty well to the change of her plans. “I’m God’s servant,” she says. And then we get her whole prayer praising God in Luke 1:46-55 that we like to read at Christmas time.

But it doesn't stop there. She’s coming up on 9 months pregnant and what should happen but a decree – she has to go to Bethlehem. A long trip on the back of a donkey. I’ve been 9 months pregnant, so I can you tell you that there’s no way that a trip like that was a part of Mary’s plans. Couldn't God make it a little easier? Couldn't He intervene?

No. And worse yet, when they get to Bethlehem, they can’t even get a room. (Side note: We always translate the Greek word as “inn” in our English versions of the Bible, as if there’s some sort of Motel 6 there in Bethlehem. But that word is usually used for a guest room in a relative’s house. So, it could be that Joseph went to his relative’s house there in Bethlehem and found that other relatives were there first and had taken up all the space. I wonder if it was because they had to travel slowly because of Mary’s condition that there was no place for them once they got there?) I also wonder if they were thinking that surely God would provide a room for them, a nice place to have that baby that was supposed to be God’s son. But no. A stable. And not one of those cute, clean little “stables” like we have in our nativities at Christmas. Think poop, flies, and stink.

Eventually, the magi come. Now, that’s more like it. Gold. Frankincense . Myrrh. Gifts fit for a king. At last! Except that no sooner do they leave than the soldiers come. And they aren't bearing gifts. They're bearing swords, ready to kill all the baby boys. Talk about a nightmare. And Mary and Joseph have to run off to Egypt, a foreign country, where they’re all alone. Mary's hopes, Mary's plans, ruined again.

In time, they come back to Israel, and we get one story in the Bible about Jesus as a youth. One single story. And what’s he doing? Yep, giving his mom grief. At twelve, he stays behind in Jerusalem, and gives his mom the scare of her life. That sure wasn’t a dream come true for her. If you've lost a kid in a store, you can get a taste of the panic Mary must have been feeling.

And if that’s not enough, her son grows up. Now, if I were the mom of God’s son, I’d be dreaming of some big stuff. In fact, you can see some of Mary’s plans in her original prayer –

--bringing down rulers, maybe she’s thinking of Rome,

--helping the humble,

--bringing abundance, food, to the hungry,

--bringing glory to Israel like they once had.

But instead, her son is wandering around homeless riling everybody up. So much so that she and some of Jesus’ brothers have to go to talk some sense into him. And when she gets there, does Jesus say, “Mom, great to see you! Come on in, sit by me.”?? Noooo. He says, “Who are mother and my brothers… These are my mother and my brothers,” as he points to other people around him – not to her. Jesus’ public ministry certainly wasn’t Mary’s dream come true.

And then, of course, comes the worst of all. Can you imagine it? Watching your first born son arrested, beaten, spat upon, and then nailed to a cross to die. Because where was Mary then? She was at the foot of the cross. Can you imagine standing there as the blood drips, and his anguished cries echo in your ears. Your son. The son you love. I can imagine nothing worse. Nothing more gut-wrenching and horrific. That was never, ever, ever in Mary’s plans. That was the greatest nightmare come true of all time.

AND YET… and here’s the most marvelous point of all. It is in that horrific moment, in that moment that encapsulates the very epitome of what it means for plans and hopes to go awry, to die – in that moment we find the most incredible, wondrous, breathtaking act of God of all time. It is the moment of redemption, of glory, of splendor, of the answer to all the prayers and hopes from the beginning of time until now. It is at that moment that we find the salvation of all mankind.

There, at the precise moment when all Mary’s hopes died. When all her plans came to nothing. That was the moment of answer. That was when truly the poor were provided for, a ruler of evil was overthrown, and mercy was given, just as she prayed all those years before. It was the moment of glory.

I think it may always be that way. That there, at the very place where our dreams don’t come true, where our expectations are shattered – that is where God is standing in the greatest power. Those are the moments, the places that change the world, where we find a depth and wonder deeper than we ever dared to dream.

Because, this I know for certain: the life God gives you is not the life you dreamed. It is the Kingdom of Heaven lived through you. It is wondrous. It is incredible. It is unexpected. And it is found at the foot of the cross.