Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Horse Show & The Thief on the Cross

Hi Friends,

Well, we had our first gymkhana show of 2011 on Saturday -- my first show since last July. Besides me, Bryan, Bethany, Joelle, and Jayna also rode. We had LOTS of fun, and Jayna even won high point in her division (FC 10 and Under). She was the youngest rider there. Bethany posted her fastest times ever, and Joelle also had her best times on Ruby. Bryan bettered his times on Smokey by a ton, but still didn't beat Jewel (though he did edge her out for the overall "A" division title). Anyway, it was fun to be back in the saddle and running events. Yay!

In other news, we had a wonder-filled Easter thinking about how Jesus died for us and rose again to beat death and forgive our sins forever. On that note, here are some thoughts about the thieves who were crucified with Jesus:

After pondering the story of Jesus' death and resurrection this past weekend, I've come to realize that we are all the thief on the cross. The only question is, are we the thief who recognizes who we are and cries out for Jesus to remember us? Or are we the one who mocks Jesus because we don't really believe He is the God who will beat death and rescue us? Of course, we all want to be the wise thief ... but how do we live? Do we live each day as if we are trusting and believing in the One who will save us? Do we face our own crosses, our fears, difficulties, and disappointments by looking to Him and casting ourselves on His mercy? Do we really live in submission, hope, and trust? Or are we hanging there in our fears, bitterness, and discouragement and trying to handle it all alone, pushing Him away, not truly believing His plan for us?

As you ponder those questions, here is a little poem that I wrote about the saved thief a few years ago. May you remember to cast your cares on Him today and know that He remembers you!

The Thief
Luke 23:35-43

Hung upon a cross to die
Was just what I deserved.
A thief was I, a scoundrel.
No plea had I reserved.
But Him, on the other hand,
Who hung there at my side,
He had not killed nor stolen,
He had not even lied.
Why hung He there, so sadly,
Amid the mocks and jeers,
Mutt'ring not a single word
Among His silent tears?
"Save yourself," they screamed at Him.
"And us," my partner cried.
He just turned and looked at me
And quietly He sighed.
Suddenly I spoke my heart,
My fears began to flee.
"When you get into your kingdom, Lord
Please remember me."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chocolate & Easter - Do You Recognize God's Gifts?

Hi Friends!

May God take your breath away this week with the wonder of his resurrection! And as you celebrate, here's a little story that happened a couple years ago that will hopefully help you savor all of God's gifts in your life. It happened like this:

Trumped. By chocolate.

I had worked all week with my almost-four-year-old, Joelle, on the meaning of Easter. We’d made little paper Jesus figures and pinned them to the cross. We’d washed feet, made pretend alabaster jars of paper and sprayed them with perfume for Jesus’ head. We’d put Jesus on a paper donkey and made palm branches, then placed him in a garden made with flowers from the yard. And on Friday, we’d taken Jesus from the cross, wrapped him in fabric, and placed him in the tomb, a box with a rock on top.

Now it was Sunday morning. We raced to the tomb and found the stone rolled away. Joelle opened her box and saw the fabric. But Jesus was gone. He was risen. We cheered and laughed and clapped our hands. We hollered, “He is risen!”

Then, we hunted for Easter baskets.

That was my undoing. Joelle found her basket, and the chocolate in it. “Chocolate!” she shrieked.
I picked up the basket and set it on the counter. “We’ll have that after lunch, okay?”

She nodded.

“Now, let’s get ready for church.”

She cast one last, longing glance at the candy, then tromped upstairs.

In fifteen minutes, we had dressed in our fancy Easter dresses and hurried off to church. We weren’t there for two minutes when the moment arrived. I held my breath as Pastor Mark walked up and leaned over the row of seats in front of us. He looked at Joelle and smiled. “So, can you tell me what Easter’s all about?”

My chest puffed. Surely Joelle would know the answer to that! After all, we had a whole week of activities behind us. Jesus is risen. I rehearsed the words in my mind, willing her to say them.

She lifted her chin.

I smiled.

Joelle smiled. And then she told Pastor Mark the meaning of Easter, in single word: “Chocolate!”

My face fell.

My husband snickered.

Mark laughed.

I groaned.

Chocolate. I’d been beaten by a handful of candy. Somehow, a few chocolates in the bottom of a basket overwhelmed a whole week of stories and crafts and activities. But then, I should have known. Joelle loves chocolate. She always has. To her, it’s the best thing in the world.

Music started at the front of the church. Joelle settled into her seat. A minute later, Grandpa arrived and sat next to us. Joelle sidled over to him.

He gave her a hug and whispered, “Happy Easter.”

And then, something amazing happened. Joelle told Grandpa the story of Easter – all of it, about Jesus and the perfume, Jesus on the cross, Jesus risen from the tomb, Jesus alive forever and in our hearts.

My husband looked over at me and winked.

I shook my head. Joelle did know what Easter was all about. Jesus, and chocolate. Both made her happy.

I glanced over at her grinning face. Then, I realized the truth. To her, there was no profound difference between the secular and the holy. To her, everything good was holy, even chocolate. Especially chocolate. Jesus being alive was good and wonderful. Chocolate was good and wonderful. So what better way to celebrate the ultimate gift of Christ’s resurrection than with the best thing we have – chocolate.

Joelle understood that. And maybe she was right. Maybe the separation between God-things and regular-life-stuff wasn’t as wide as I’d thought. After all, Scripture says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 1:17, NIV). Every good gift. Life . . . and chocolate.

I smiled and rose to my feet and the first song began. Today, I would thank God for Jesus, and for every good gift that I could enjoy because of him, because he rose on the third day. I would thank him for salvation, for freedom, for life and love. I would even thank him for chocolate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tea for Two by Trish Perry

Hi Friends,

Here's the book I have to tell you about this week. It's TEA FOR TWO by Trish Perry. Here's a bit about Trish and the book, plus a yummy recipe from the book too. Enjoy!

About Trish:
Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written eight inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Summerside Press. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She holds a degree in Psychology.

Trish’s latest novel, Unforgettable, released in March, and Tea for Two released in April. She invites you to visit her at www.TrishPerry.com

About Tea for Two:

Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.

Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina. Or did she?

Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.

And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly, is counseling whom.

And a yummy recipe for Chocolate Mousse Cake:


6 ounces crushed malt balls
8.8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
7 ounces heavy cream, whipped
3 seven ounce packages white chocolate & Macadamia cookies
1 cup Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur (for non-alcoholic version use Irish Crème coffee creamer)

Chocolate mousse:
10 ounces chopped dark chocolate
2 eggs (room temperature)
¼ cup caster sugar (very fine granulated sugar)
¾ cup heavy cream, whipped


Make chocolate mousse—
In microwave-safe bowl, microwave chopped chocolate until almost melted, stirring after each minute. Set aside to cool slightly.
Beat eggs and caster sugar with electric beater for five minutes.
Stir in cooled chocolate.
Fold in ¾ cup whipped cream.
Refrigerate until needed.

Set aside ¼ cup crushed malt balls.

Fold together mascarpone, 7 ounces whipped cream, and remaining malt balls. Remove the base of an 8-inch spring form pan and place the ring on a large serving plate (ring will serve as a mold for the cake). Cut a strip of parchment paper and line side of ring. Dip cookies, one at a time, into liqueur and place in single layer in mold to cover base. Spread half mascarpone mixture over cookies. Top with another layer of cookies dipped in liqueur.

Spread chocolate mousse over cookies. Top with one more layer of cookies dipped in liqueur. Spread remaining mascarpone mixture over cookies and sprinkle with the ¼ cup reserved malt balls.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Then remove spring form, peel away parchment paper, cut, and serve.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When You're Asking "What..."

Hi Friends!

I've been talking about the funny things kids say this week on my Facebook page, and I was reminded of something that happened while I was teaching Sunday School a few years ago and how God used it to teach me to trust Him more instead of always asking "What's next" and "Hey, what's up with this?" and "God, what, what, what in the world is the plan here?!" It happened like this:

It was just like every other Sunday morning at church. I waited in the preschool classroom with my box of supplies sitting at my side, eager to present the day’s lesson on how Jesus can make us fishers of men. I’d worked especially hard on the lesson, praying and arranging all the parts to fit together in the best way to communicate the message to the kids. Now, everything was ready.

Before me, brightly colored yarn and construction paper peeked over bins of broken crayons. Sticks that would later become fishing poles poked from the box at my side, and my Bible story book rested, open and ready, on the table in front of me. Even the dry erase board shone clean and white, with colored pens lined up in preparation for the day’s teaching. I said a quick prayer that the lesson I’d prepared would impact the hearts and minds of my young students.

In minutes, they arrived – a jumble of small, flowery dresses, clip-on ties, shiny shoes, and children’s Bibles clenched in restless hands. As soon as they sat down, it began – the barrage of “what” questions.

“What story are we reading today?”

“What are those sticks for?”

“What are we going to make with those?”

“What’s in your box?” “What song are we going to sing?”

“What are you gonna write on the board?”

What, what, what . . .every question they could think of except “What do we need to do to get started?” Of course, I should have been used to it. The questions were nearly the same every Sunday. And just like last Sunday, and the Sunday before that, I answered them all with an assortment of “You’ll see’s,” “You’ll have to wait’s,” and “Trust me’s.”

But, this morning I wished it would have been different. I had hoped the kids would want to experience the lesson one step at a time, discovering each part as an ongoing adventure, rather than needing to know it all, all at once. Maybe it was because I’d prepared the lesson with particular care, and the order of events was essential to what I wanted to teach them. Or perhaps it was because today, especially, I didn’t want the surprise of what would come later to be spoiled by too many questions now. Or perhaps the real reason was because their questions echoed too closely the ones I’d been asking God just last night.

“What are you asking me to do this for?”

“What am I going to do if it doesn’t work out?”

“What is the purpose of these problems in my life?”

“What are you doing to me?” "What is going on here? Gimme a complete explanation!"

What, what, what . . . every question I could think of except “What do I need to do to follow your will right now, right away?” Like my Sunday School kids, I always want to know the end before the beginning, I want to know what everything’s for and how it will all turn out. I’m not content to take God’s well-planned lessons one step at a time, being obedient at the moment without having to know what comes next.

And just like when I’m the teacher, God answers my questions not with explanations, but with “trust me” – trust Him that He has a plan for my life, trust that He knows what He’s doing in the timing and order of it, trust that the lesson is a good one. “’Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,’” He says, “’for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’” (Matthew 5:34 NIV) He asks that I first learn what He’s teaching me today, right now, before I worry about what’s to come tomorrow.

And, just like my Sunday School kids, I have trouble with that, especially when doubts and questions arise, or when the plan seems to be going askew. Yet, even when life is the most confusing, even when I see strange sticks poking from God’s supply box, still, the best answer to all my “what’s” is a simple “trust me…you’ll see.”

What do you need to trust God for in your life today??

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Daddy in the Making by Lyn Cote

Hi Friends,

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

Daddy in the Making
2nd in New Friends Street series
by Lyn Cote

Harlequin Love Inspired Romance
Released Apr 2011


Brought together by a Matchmaking Dog-- Dr. Jake McClure’s basset hound has fallen in love. With a single mom, her adorable twins and the orphaned kittens they rescued. Man’s best friend suddenly won’t budge from Jeannie Broussard—and Jake can understand why. Jeannie is full of love, laughter and everything Jake has been missing in his life lately. As Jake spends time with Jeannie and her girls helping to build her Habitat for Humanity house and rescuing stray animals, a bond forges between them, and soon Jake is wondering if he’s the perfect fit in this fatherless family....

To purchase, drop by http://booksbylyncote.com/SWBS/

New Friends Street: Where love and dreams find a home.


When Lyn Cote became a mother, she gave up teaching, and while raising a son and a daughter, she began working on her first novel. Rejection followed. Finally, Lyn got "the call." Her first book, Never Alone, was chosen for the new Love Inspired romance line. Since then, Lyn has had over thirty novels published. In 2006 Lyn's book, Chloe, was a finalist for the RITA, one of the highest awards in the romance genre. And her Her Patchwork Family was a Carol finalist in the short historical category in 2010. Lyn’s brand “Strong Women, Brave Stories,” always includes three elements: a strong heroine who is a passionate participant in her times, authentic historical detail and a multicultural cast of characters. Lyn also features stories of strong women both from real life and true to life fiction on her website homepage, http://www.LynCote.net. Lyn also can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Drop by and "friend or follow" her. Now living her dream of writing books at her lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, Lyn hopes her books show the power of divine as well as human love.

One of the secondary characters in this book, Millie, is famous for her Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

Here's my recipe.

Lyn Cote's Baked Macaroni

I adapted this recipe from my 1940 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I've cut the fat content from the original and changed to whole wheat or SMART TASTE macaroni to up the fiber. So you can indulge with this recipe, knowing that it's healthy! 1 lb. whole wheat macaroni or Ronzoni Brand Smart Taste pasta (fortified with Calcium, Vitamin d and Fiber)


White sauce:
6 Tb butter or margarine
¾ c. flour
5 c. skim milk
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper


1 lb grated medium cheddar cheese (Or if you want to give this a Mexican flavor, substitute pepper jack cheese.)

1 c. bread crumbs (or crushed tortilla chips)

Cook macaroni, drain and put into greased, deep casserole dish or bowl. Make the white sauce and take pan off heat (to keep the cheese from becoming stringy). Add 2/3rd's of the grated cheese. Stir till melted. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs over top. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. May serve as side dish or main course.

Drop by http://www.LynCote.com to learn more about Lyn's literary concoctions. And catch up on her free read, La Belle Christiane, an original manuscript never published, a new scene every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Rare Moment Alone . . .

Hi Friends,

It's quiet for a moment at my house ... a rarity around here. The girls are at school, Jayden's at Grandma's next door, the baby's sleeping, Bryan's at a meeting. So, there's just me, tempted to do the dusting, fold the clothes, answer email ... in other words, fritter away this gift of a few moments to spend alone with God. But today, I'm not going to. Instead, I've come across this passage in my Bible:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).

And I'm caught by the magnificence of Christ and the wonder of being able to spend time with him. How could I waste that chance? How could I choose dusting instead? What am I thinking to even consider the call of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry?

So instead, I'm thinking about this: Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting in your favorite chair. One leg is tucked beneath you. Your Bible is in your lap, and soft music is playing in the background. Then, without warning, Christ himself is standing before you. His eyes are blazing like fire, his hair is as white at lightning, his waist sparkles with gold, his face is shining like the sun at high noon. What would you do? Would you cover your face, fall at his feet, jump up and hug him?

John, the apostle who knew Jesus so well, the one who spoke of Christ’s love most often, chose option #2. He fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead. His reaction shows us how incredible, breath-taking, magnificent Christ’s presence is.

Yet Jesus calls us daily into his presence and tells us, as he told John, “Do not be afraid.” So, I don't want to take that call lightly? I want to live in the reality of the amazing privilege we have to be able to talk with the One who not only died on the cross for us, but who holds our very lives in his hands. “The First and the Last,” the “Living One,” the One who holds the keys of death and Hades – he is the One who calls us to spend time with him today, to tell him our concerns, to listen to his guidance. He is the One who longs to share with us what’s in his heart, who desires to change us, be with us, and fill us with his wisdom and joy. He is the One who loves us.

May I never forget the wonder of that reality! Especially today!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Story Jar by Robin Lee Hatcher & Deborah Bedford

Hi Friends,

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

In time for Mother's Day giving...

THE STORY JAR by Robin Lee Hatcher and Deborah Bedford


A lovely novel of three women, their stories threaded together through the concept of The Story Jar…

The jar itself is most unusual—not utilized in the ordinary way for canning or storing food, but as a collection point for memories. Some mementos in the jar—hair ribbons, a ring, a medallion--are sorrowful, others tender, some bittersweet. But all those memories eventually bring their owners to a place of hope and redemption in spite of circumstances that seemingly have no solution.

Fresh, insightful, yet courageous in the face of difficult life issues, this collaboration by two talented writers first profiles a pastor’s wife with two young daughters who faces cancer just as her own mother did before her; and then a remarried mother working through a difficult relationship with a rebellious runaway daughter. The third woman, alone with two teenaged boys who no longer pay much attention to her and seem headed for trouble, discovers the long-lost “story jar” and its significance. She comes to realize she can bring her own sorrows and frustrations to the feet of the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician, the Healer of the brokenhearted. She too will have memories for her own story jar.

“…It captures with surprising sensitivity…communion with God, and some excruciatingly exquisite moments of parental love…” Publishers Weekly

Included in the book are heart-warming tributes on motherhood from novelists such as Jerry Jenkins, Francine, Rivers, Karen Ball, and Debbie Macomber.


Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She makes her home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the kitten who currently terrorizes the household.

When Deborah Bedford isn't writing, she spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at American Legion baseball games, shopping with her daughter, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for hikes in the Tetons where they live.

by Robin Lee Hatcher

In September 1998, I received a story jar as a thank you gift after speaking at a writers’ conference in Nebraska. The small mason jar, the lid covered with a pretty handkerchief, was filled with many odds and ends – a Gerber baby spoon, an empty thread spindle, a colorful pen, several buttons, a tiny American flag, an earring, and more.

The idea behind this gift was a simple one. When a writer can’t think of anything to write, she stares at one of the objects in the jar and lets her imagination play. Who did that belong to? How hold was he? What sort of person was he? What does the object represent in his life?

Writers love to play the “what if” game. It’s how most stories come into being. Something piques their interest, they start asking questions, and a book is born.

A week after receiving my story jar, I attended a retreat with several writer friends of mine, Deborah Bedford included. On the flight home, I told Deborah about the jar. The next thing you know (after all, what better thing is there for writers to do on a plane than play “what if”?), we began brainstorming what would ultimately become The Story Jar. We decided very quickly that we wanted this to be a book that celebrates motherhood, that encourages mothers, that recognizes how much they should be loved and honored.

The Story Jar was first published by Multnomah in 2000, but eventually went out of print. Thus Deborah and I are delighted that Hendrickson wanted to bring it out in a new, revised version because we believe these stories can inspire others, just as it did this reader back in 2001:

"I am an avid book reader and have read thousands of books––maybe more––since the age of 5. I can honestly say that [The Story Jar] has touched me more than any other I have read. I cried, I laughed, and I relearned things that I had forgotten long ago as well as realizing things I never knew. Thank you for sharing your stories with your readers. They are truly inspiring. I plan on giving it to all the ‘mothers’ in my life for Mother's Day."

You don’t have to be a writer to want a story jar. It can be a family’s way of preserving memories. Consider having a family get-together where everybody brings an item to go into the jar, and as it drops in, they tell what it means to them, what it symbolizes. We can learn something new about our loved ones when we hear their memories in their own words. Or do what my church did a number of years ago to create a memory for a retiring pastor. Inspired by The Story Jar, members of the congregation brought items to the retirement dinner to put into a story jar or they simply wrote their memories on a piece of paper to go into the jar. It was our way of saying thanks to a man and wife for all of the years they’d given in God’s service.

A story jar can be a tool for remembering all the wonderful things God has done in our own lives. As Mrs. Halley said, not all of God’s miracles are in the Bible. He is still performing them today in countless ways today, changing lives, healing hearts.

The Story Jar on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1598566652/novelistrobinlee
The Story Jar on ChristianBook: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?event=AFF&p=1138486&item_no=566659

Robin Lee Hatcher http://www.robinleehatcher.com/

Deborah Bedford http://www.deborahbedfordbooks.com/