Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Be a Big, Fat Liar...

Hi Friends,

This week I was talking to a friend about how we so often hide our struggles and make believe everything is fine when it's not. As we talked, I was reminded of the story below and what I learned from it.

Are you hiding a struggle? How can we be praying for you as you face the challenges of your life?

Think about that as you read on . . .

It was a big, fat lie. I smiled as I said it. And what’s worse, I told it in the church foyer.

A friend touched my shoulder. “How’re you doing?”

“Fine. Thanks.”

She nodded and made her way into the sanctuary.

Fine. I’m doing fine. I’ve told that lie a hundred times, maybe a thousand. But it was never bigger than that morning. Two days before I’d found out that the baby I was carrying had died. And in two days more I was scheduled for surgery to remove the empty egg sac that was still in me. So, I was not fine. Not at all.

I wouldn’t have thought twice about my lie except when I came home that day I found one of my lovebirds dead at the bottom of the cage. I trembled as I backed away and called to my husband. “Bryan, can you come in here?”

He walked over and stared at the bird. “What happened?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I dunno. It looked fine yesterday.”

“How did it go from fine to dead in a day?” Bryan
put on a gardening glove, reached in the cage, and removed the dead bird. “Well, there’s no marks on it. Feels a little skinny though. You’d better look in that book we got on lovebirds.”

I shivered and turned away.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.” I said the lie again, softer this time, quieter.

“Fine, huh?” Bryan put the dead bird in a box, then waited as I retrieved the book about lovebirds and flipped through the pages.

I read about various diseases and sick birds. Then, I stopped and looked up. “Wow, look at this.” I pointed to a paragraph in the book. “It says here that a lovebird will hide its sickness until it’s about to die. You can’t tell it’s even sick unless you weigh it twice a week.”

Bryan nodded. “It’s too bad. If we’d have known, we could have tried to do something.” He tossed the book onto the table. “Too late now, of course.”

I sank into a chair and stared at the one bird left in the cage. “If only we’d known . . .” It was then that my lie came back to me. Fine. Thanks. I was no different than that foolish lovebird. By instinct, I, too, hid my emotional and spiritual sickness. Hid it so well that no one would know I needed help.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Ephesians 4:25, NIV) I’d always thought that verse meant I shouldn’t try to manipulate others with my words. And it does mean that. But maybe it also means that I must open myself to those around me. I need to allow them into my life with truth and honesty. I have to be vulnerable if I am to be healed.

And if I’m not, I may find myself, one day soon, face down at the bottom of my cage.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finding Peace in the Rush

Hi Friends,

Well, it's been a busy week around here. On Sunday, Bethany left for Hume Lake for church camp (our first one off to camp for a week!). On Monday we went to Lockwood (about two hours away) to pick up a new horse for a one-week trial. On Tuesday, we had a lunch meeting for a new ministry (yay!) at church, plus lots of arena time trying out Frenchie (the new horse). Yesterday was the Bean's (aka baby Jordyn) 6 month doctor appointment, a blood test for me, and a long and fruitless trip to Dublin (another almost 2-hour away trip) to see a used car that wasn't even there (ack! waste of time!). And today's another medical test for me, more trying the horse time, rodeo, and hopefully catching up on exciting things like laundry and dishes. Tomorrow's more horse, etc., and Saturday mutton busting for Jayna at the big rodeo.

All that to say, I'm feeling a bit stressed in all the rush. So, the question is, how can I live in the peace God promises and provides in the rush of everyday life? Here are some thoughts:

1) Walk with God. That means instead of rushing from one thing to the next, slow down and realize that God is with me (and you!) every step of the way.

2) Don't lead. Follow! Take several moments during the day to settle my mind and make sure I am following God's lead instead of simply rushing off to do what I think needs to be done. Just because something should be done or needs to be done doesn't mean that God is asking me to do it right this minute.

3) Look and really see. Be aware of how God is working around me. Look and see others. Smile. Recognize the beauty God has placed around me. Pausing in wonder at how amazing God is and what He's doing and has done only takes a moment, yet it refreshing the soul in huge ways.

4) Enjoy. God gives many small yet wonferful moments to enjoy each day. Don't miss them. Savor them!

5) Stop long enough to be thankful. Sometimes I just need to pause, take a deep breath, and thank God for the things that have caused the rush: kids, horses, cars, clothes, email from friends, food, dishes, books, opportunities to serve, doctors and tests, kidneys ... all are BLESSINGS. Remembering to be thankful replaces panic with peace!

What are some things you do to find peace in the rush of life??

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life Full of Hurdles? Consider This...

Hi Friends,

Well, after weeks of facing horrible kidney stones (again), two surgeries (again), painful 2-foot-long stents in both my ureter tubes (again) and a stint in the hospital (blech), followed by the big Firecracker Frenzy gymkhana show and week away with the family (fun too!), God has reminded me of a horse story about facing the same trials over and over again (Note: the first couple pictures are of Joelle on her new horse, Ruby, doing hurry scurry in June - I don't have a picture of Oreo over the jumps). This story encouraged me when thinking about going through the same hard things that I've been through before, and I thought you might find hope in it too as you face hurdles in your own life. See what you think . . .

I held my breath as my six-year-old, Joelle, rode her Paint mare into the arena. The gate closed behind her. She paused and glanced at the three short jumps of the Hurry Scurry race. A small smile brushed her lips.

Then, she urged the horse forward.

I gripped the fence rail and watched Oreo approach the first jump at a gentle lope. Closer, closer, up and over. I let out my breath.

Joelle and Oreo turned the far pole and headed back, over jump number two. Clear. Over jump three. Clear again. And through the timing poles, perfect.

I whooped and cheered and pressed my hand to my thudding heart.

They’d done it, and done it beautifully.

A wide grin lit Joelle’s face as she patted Oreo’s neck and guided the mare out the gate.

I rushed over to them, calling, “You did it, you did it, you did it!”

Joelle turned. “Oreo did it.” She leaned over and hugged the horse’s neck.

And she was right. Oreo did it, but only because they’d practiced and practiced and practiced. When we’d gotten Oreo just two months before, the mare was terrible at jumping. She’d hesitate as she approached the jump, then she'd stumble over, her back feet banging the crossbar. The jump was always jumbled up afterward. It was ugly. It was awkward.

But Joelle didn’t let Oreo quit. She kept giving her chance after chance to figure out how to do it right. At home, they'd lope around the arena and jump and jump and jump, until Oreo hesitated less and less, until her legs cleared more frequently, until the awkwardness decreased with each try. And Joelle didn't get angry at Oreo for not doing well. She didn’t scowl or scold, punish or frown. She just kept giving her chances to practice, and encouraging her with pets and praise for each improvement.

Later that day as Joelle went up to get her second place ribbon for the Hurry Scurry, I thought about how God’s interactions with me are a lot like Joelle’s with Oreo. I too have things I’m not so good at. Sometimes, it’s considering others first, or trusting him in difficult circumstances, or finding peace in chaos (that's a tough one for me!), or fighting fear in certain specific areas of life.

As I approach those hurdles, I often hesitate, I stumble over, I bang my feet, and it can be both awkward and ugly.

Then, too often, my response to a not-so-perfect jump is to think badly of myself, to criticize and accuse and feel that surely God is scowling and scolding, punishing and frowning. I condemn myself for not having enough faith, for not flying through a situation perfectly, or not being as good as someone else going through a similar thing.

But standing there, cheering for Joelle and Oreo reminded me of James 1:2-4 (NIV): “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I used to read this verse as “be happy about your hardships,” which seemed crazy. But now I believe James really means that we can be glad that we don’t go through trials for nothing. God uses the hurdles of life to help us become the people he envisions us to be. We just have to keep going, keep trying, because that’s what perseverance is.

So, when I face the same tough hurdles of life over and over, it’s not because God is punishing me, it’s because he’s giving me an opportunity to practice, grow, and improve until I can jump smoothly. He's saying, "You'll get it. Let's try it again. I'm giving you another chance, and another, and another." He doesn't expect me to be able to clear every jump the first time, or even the second or third. Instead, he’s giving me a chance to get a little better, a little faster, a little smoother, until I’ve mastered the things I once wasn’t so good at. Perhaps, in time, I too will be like Oreo, flying over the jumps with my feet not even touching. And maybe, someday when I reach heaven, there’ll be a prize for me too, and then even the angels will clap and cheer.

Above is a picture of Joelle doing Speed Barrels on Ruby at the Firecracker Frenzy.

And finally a picture of Jayna going over the jumps with Valentine: