Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Baby is Here - Yay!

Hi Friends,

Well, in case you haven't heard, baby Jordyn made her arrival on Saturday, January 15th at 4:08pm ... only 45 minutes after we arrived at the hospital (yes, that was cutting it close!). Natural delivery with no complications. She weighed 8 lbs 7 oz and was 20 inches long.

Here I am "before," all pregnant and big-bellied. :-)

And here's a picture of Jordyn Mikaela shortly after birth. Her sisters and brother (and Grandma & Grandpa) were able to come after the birth and watch her get her very first bath. Whenever they'd talk, she'd turn her head trying to find them. It was amazing how she recognized their voices.

We came home from the hospital after less than 24 hours, and all Jordyn's siblings got to hold her. Jayden was just entranced. :-) And of course all her sisters can't get enough of holding her.

Anyway, we've gotten through the first week, and she's going great. I'm tired but functioning, and things are slowly moving back toward normal-ish.

So, meanwhile, here are three things I've learned from Jordyn:

1) If you want God's voice to be familiar, you have to listen for it everyday, even when it seems muffled by all the ins and outs of growing in everyday life. Listening when His voice is muffled will help you to recognize him when you're thrust out in the real world. (John 10:27)

2) Be prepared because you really don't know how much time you have. (1 Peter 3:15)

3) True rest comes only when we know we are held safe in the arms of God. (Psalm 46:10)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Having Eyes that SEE!

Hi Friends,

As I was thinking about preparing my mind and heart for 2011, and for the upcoming birth of baby Jordyn, this verse came to mind: "If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light..." (Matthew 6:22)

I was reminded of an experience I had a few years ago. Once upon a time, I couldn’t tell a tree from a telephone pole, or a friend from a foe, or a clean room from a dirty one – at least not without my glasses. But some years ago I had laser eye surgery, and suddenly everything was clear. I could see the intricate beauty of pictures on the wall. I could also see cobwebs gathering in the corner, and the dirt smudges near the light switch.

And I've come to think that the changes God works in me are much like eye surgery. When I’m focused on Him, my vision becomes clear. I can see the intricate details of God’s work in my life and in the world around me. Things I didn’t understand become clear, and I find God is good and loving, even when things don't go as I hoped or planned. But I also see the places in my life that need cleaning, places I may have thought were just fine before.

Good eyes, seeing eyes, allow me to view myself and my world as they really are, the good and the bad. But most importantly, good eyes keep me from being deceived by fear, panic, weariness, wishes, or even the nightly news. With truly seeing eyes, I can tell a friend from a foe, truth from lies, reality from the distractions that spring into my mind. And that’s why I pray that God will keep my eyes on Him and my vision clear. Because true sight isn't about physical vision, it's about discerning what's real. And the only way I can do that is to keep my focus on the author of truth, the only One who sees everything perfectly clearly, from beginning to end, the author of life itself. The clearer I see Him, the clearer I see everything else as well.

God, give us all eyes to see what we need to see ... clearly and truly!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Don't Get Choked! Living Beyond Worry . . .

Hi Friends,

With the new year here, and new baby due in just over a week (as of yesterday, she was head-down again ... here's praying she stays that way!), I've been thinking about how I want this year to be characterized by joy instead of worry, by captivation-with-Christ rather than captivation-by-all-those-things-on-my-to-do-list. As I've been thinking and praying about growing strong with God, this story came to mind:

It was tall. It was green. It was bushy. But something wasn’t right.

I crossed my arms and looked up at the fat, green oak tree. Beside me, my husband sighed. I shook my head. “I don’t want to do it. Do you want to do it?”

“I don’t want to do it.”

I stepped back. “Someone’s got to do it.”

“It’s an ugly job.”

“That thing will be right outside the window once we build the cabin. We can’t have it looking like that.”

“I know. But still . . . ” Bryan crossed his arms over his chest.

I put my hand on my hips.

For a moment, we both stared at the oak and didn’t say a word. Shiny green and red leaves poked from all parts of the tree. But they weren’t oak leaves. Thick vines twisted around the trunk and branches. Those didn’t belong to the oak either.

I shivered.

The green wasn’t the green of a healthy oak. Instead it was a sign of poison. A huge batch of poison oak had grown up into the tree and twined around every branch. The tree was thick with it. Lush and green, but with nasty poison.

Bryan tugged on his sleeves. “Okay, I’ll do it then. But get the bleach ready for the laundry.”

Four hours later, the laundry was in, Bryan was taking a cool shower, and the tree was clear. I tromped up the hill and looked at it. It wasn’t lush anymore. And it wasn’t green. Scraggly branches with a few sad leaves spread from the trunk and reached toward the sky.

“Ugh, it looks awful,” I murmured.

As I looked at the now-bare soil beneath it, I noticed there were no acorns scattered on the ground, and no little baby oaks growing around it.

Then it struck me. That big, strong oak was stifled by that little vine. The oak was bigger, taller, thicker, and more established. And yet, that small, thin, poisonous weed had nearly choked the life from it.

As I stood and gazed at the tree, I was reminded of Jesus’ parable from Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. In that story, seed fell on four different types of soil. In the third, the seed sprouted among thorns and the life was choked out the plants, just as the poison oak had choked the oak tree. Jesus likened the thorns to the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things.

If something as small as poison oak could choke the life from a big, strong oak, how much more vulnerable was I to worry and wrong desires? After all, there are so many things in life to worry about – finances, schooling, job concerns, health, family crises. It’s easy to allow those to twine around my mind and shove poisonous leaves through my branches until there are acorns of God’s word dropping into my daily life. No little oaks springing up around me. I had to ask if I was I producing any kind of crop in God’s Kingdom. Was it growing stronger through me, or was I just barely getting by?

As I asked those questions, I realized that I had some poison oak in my life – worries that kept me from focusing on God, goals I was pursuing that were good but weren’t God’s plan, things that were distracting me from fully living the life God had for me. And just like we did for the oak tree, I had to cut off the poison oak at its base and peel away all the vines from the branches of my life.

Over the past few years, we’ve kept the poison oak away from that oak tree, and now the tree is full, healthy, and green with leaves all its own. In time, it recovered from the stranglehold of the poison oak. It became the beautiful tree God meant it to be.

And I know that if I, too, keep the thorns away, I can be full of the greenness of true life. I can be all God intends me to be. I can be a tall, strong oak in the Kingdom of God.