Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

At Your Wit's End? Here's Hope!

Hi Friends,

I've got Yosemite on my mind this week, and so remembered a story from Yosemite when Bryan and I went backpacking years ago (BK - before kids).  I found this encouraging.  I hope you will too!
Read on . . .

It was nine o'clock and barely dark in Yosemite National Forest.  A few birds chirped sleepy good-nights as the first stars began to peek from the majestic cloak of evening sky.  I yawned and rolled over in my sleeping bag.  My husband, Bryan, flung his arm over my bag.  
Just as my eyelashes fluttered down on weary cheeks, I heard it.  A slow clawing and a soft grunt.  I held my breath and listened.  The night air rent with the sound of ripping nylon.  
"What was that?" I whispered.  
"Here, you go see."  Bryan pushed the flashlight toward me.
I unzipped the tent flap, stuck my head out the opening, and flashed the light over the right side of the camp.  There, not twenty feet from our tent, was a huge black bear.  My light shone in two huge luminous eyes above a muzzle covered with trail mix.  It grunted and swept its head down for another mouthful.
My head was back in the tent before I could think twice.  "It...it's the biggest bear I've ever seen," I stammered.  “The paper, that paper they gave us at the ranger station, what did it say?"  I rummaged through my backpack for the literature I’d stuffed there earlier.
"Yosemite bears are very timid," it read.
"Timid. Ha!" I scoffed. "That bear looks anything but timid."
Bryan nodded.  We kept reading.  "If you encounter a bear," the pamphlet continued, "scare it away immediately by yelling, banging pots together, and throwing rocks at it from a safe distance."  
I looked at Bryan.  He looked at me.  
"May as well give it a try," I whispered.  
We each took a deep breath and clamored from the tent.  I banged pots and pans and yelled.  Bryan blew his whistle.
The bear just looked at us and kept on eating.  Finally, it gave us one annoyed look, grabbed the food bag in its mouth, and lumbered away into the forest.
Bryan and I sat down on a boulder and looked at each other.  “There goes all our food,” he muttered. 
Hours later, dawn peeked into the morning sky, and the enormity of the situation struck us.  Last night's fright becoming but a minor incident in the face of hiking for two days without any food. 
"What now?” I asked.
"Don't know," Bryan sighed.  
He shrugged his shoulders, and I shrugged mine.
"We may as well pack up, though," he continued.  "Nothing else to do."
We had come to a situation where we had no answers.  We didn't even have any alternatives. The problem was out of our hands.
Just as we were putting the last items into our packs, a woman sauntered out of the woods near our camp.  
"Say, we heard your whistle last night.  Have a bear?" she asked.
We nodded.  
"Did it get your food?" she continued.
We nodded again.  
"We have some extra food if you need it."  
"Really?" we choked, hardly able to believe our ears.  
"Yeah, some trail mix and dried fruit, and other stuff."  She smiled.  "Would you like it?"  
We nodded our heads yet again, this time much more eagerly.  
"I'll be back in a few minutes," she stated pleasantly.  
True to her word, she was back almost immediately with the promised food, more than enough to sustain us for our journey, and better food than we had originally brought.
I stared at the food in my hand as the woman made her way back through the trees.  Then, I chuckled.  Just when we were at our wit's end, God found a way to give us what we needed.  Wasn’t that just like Him?  And, as usual, His provision was better and more abundant than what we had for ourselves. 
Now, whenever I am faced with a problem that seems insurmountable, I remember the biggest bear I have ever seen.  That bear has become a symbol to me of how God can take impossibility and turn it into blessing.  My wit's end is only God's beginning, the forerunner of His grace.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Words of Wisdom on Bethany's Birthday

Hi Friends,

My oldest becomes a teenager today (Happy Birthday, Bethany!!), and I am filled with gratitude and joy.  Thank You, Lord, for Bethany!!  Thank You for her joy, her love for You, her wisdom, her laughter, her amazing inner beauty.  Thank You for creating her and giving her to us.  What a gift she is!!

I remember the years and years of trying to conceive before we had her.  I remember the seemingly endless mother's days with empty arms.  I remember the prayers and tears, the hopes and disappointments.

I remember the lessons that God's love for me doesn't rely on circumstances, on prayers answered the way I want, on gifts given when I ask for them.

And I remember that for 13 years, God has shown me through one beautiful, vibrant, loving girl that God is beautiful, vibrant, and loving.

So today, as I kiss my daughter's forehead on my special "Mom's-kissing-spot" and send her off to school, I thank God for the gift of Bethany, and I remember all she's taught me:

--Every day is a party.
--Enjoy life's regular moments.
--Find ways to have fun every day ... even when there's still work to be done.
--Rearrange the furniture every so often just for the fun of it.
--Embrace change.
--Pink is a good color after all.
--Revel in God's amazing love.
--Be wise and listen to God.
--Spend time with those you love.
--Enjoy your friends.
--Laugh, love, listen.
--Be grateful.
--Trust God always, even in the dark.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jordyn's Birthday - Lessons in Getting Clean

Hi Friends,

Well, baby Jordyn turned two this week, so we had a fun time looking back and remembering all she's taught us about life and God, love and learning in these past two years. 

And while we reminisced, I recalled the lessons learned at her very first bath.  

Here are some things I learned from her at bathtime:

1) Sometimes we make a mess of ourselves.

2) We can't clean ourselves. We need Someone who loves us to do it for us.

3) Getting clean can be a little scary, but there's no use crying about it.

4) If you want to be clean, you have to trust the One doing the cleaning. Rest in His hands, even when the waters splash around you.

5) To really be clean, God has to wash the nooks and crannies -- those places we may not see.

6) You don't come out of a bath looking perfect - your hair may stick up and your skin may be a little wrinkled. Don't worry about appearances - it's getting clean that counts.

7) You're going to make a mess of yourself again, so trust God to know when another bath is needed.

8) God loves you. Let Him do what's needed to make you clean.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lessons in Living with God ... From a Rat!

Hi Friends,

So, one of our several pet acquisitions over the Christmas holiday was a new rat for Joelle.  Rat?! you say.  Yes, a rat.  But not an ugly, dirty-grey, nasty rat.  A cute little grey-and-white soft rat who is sweet and friendly.  A pet rat.  We love her.

But all rats are not created equal.  As I watch ours scamper about in her big blue ball, or peek out of her cage hoping for a cuddle and a treat, I remember another rat.  Not a pet rat.  Not a nice rat.  A big, ugly, horrible rat that taught me a valuable lesson about life and living in God's freedom.

It happened like this:

“Oh, look at that cute squir . . .” The word died on my lips. It wasn’t a squirrel. And it wasn’t cute. There was no fuzzy tail. No sweet little pointed ears, no tiny paws filled with winter nuts. Instead, my gaze fixed on a long, bare tail and pointed nose. A rat. A chill tiptoed up my arms. It was a horrible, huge, grab-the-antibacterial-cleaner rat. A rat as big as a papa squirrel. And worse, it was darting back and forth along the outside wall of a brand-new restaurant. The restaurant at which my husband, Bryan, and I were planning to eat. Suddenly, I wasn’t so hungry anymore.

Bryan pulled our Explorer into a parking space, opened his door, and stepped out.

I didn’t move.

He paused and glanced at me. “Aren’t you coming?”

“Aaaruugh.” I made a sound in the back of my throat.

Bryan scowled. “What’s wrong? I thought you wanted to try this restaurant.”

I wrinkled my nose and pointed at the building. “Not a squirrel. Rat. Big, yucky rat.”

Bryan’s eyes turned to the building. “Woo-wee,” he whistled, “that’s a big one. Kinda turns your stomach, doesn’t it?”


He looks pretty fat and healthy. Must be eating well.”

Visions of rats munching leftovers in the restaurant’s kitchen pranced through my mind. Rats eating, and running, and leaving their droppings all over the counters. I shivered.

Bryan got back in his seat and shut the door. “Now what?”

For three long minutes we watched the rat scurry along the ledge of the building before it leapt into the bushes beneath.

“Uh, I think I’ve seen enough. How about Burger King?” I made a face and Bryan laughed.

“Burger King it is.”

For the next several days I thought about our rat-at-the-restaurant experience. I considered how one little (or not so little!) rodent had lost the restaurant a good customer. I thought about how the owner would be appalled to know that he had a rat running around his building. And I contemplated whether I’d ever be willing to eat at that restaurant (and decided “no way!”).

About the time I stopped thinking about the rat, God brought it to mind again. I was reading the familiar passage of Matthew 7:3-4 (NIV) where Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” and mulling over my usual thoughts about the verse. Wouldn’t a guy notice a huge plank sticking out of his eye? You’d think something that big would be obvious. How could he live with that plank there anyway?

Then I remembered the rat. It, too, was huge, and awful, and obvious. At least to me. But not to the restaurant owner. Maybe sin is like that rat – obvious to everyone except the owner. Rats are supposed to be sneaky. Sin can be sneaky too. I gulped and wondered what kind of sin might be running around the ledges of my life, driving people away while I was oblivious to its presence. Did I have bitterness, unforgiveness, or selfishness scampering around and gnawing on the leftovers of my life? I suspected I might. If so, it was time to call the exterminator. It was time to ask Jesus to uncover and clean out the rat’s nests.

So, in these past weeks since my rat experience, I’ve been praying for God to do just that. And I’ve seen that I do have a few rats, a few planks, that must have been obvious to everyone but me. I saw that I get irritable and lash out when things go wrong. I noticed my impatience with my daughter. I detected sudden flares of bitterness that have no place in a God-lover’s heart. And I recognized that it’s much easier for me to find fault with others before I see it in myself. Just like the man in Jesus’ story. As I’ve seen my own rodents, I’ve realized that God-the-exterminator has a lot of work to do at my restaurant. And I’m calling on Him to wipe out every last rat.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year! Being Bread in the Hands of God

Hi Friends,

Today we're baking bread from scratch.  The last time we baked bread was quite a few years ago (as you can see from the picture!).  This time, all four older girls were able to make their own loaves.  As I type, the bread is browning in the oven and filling the house with a wonderful smell.

And I'm reminded of God.

I'm reminded of how he kneads and shapes me.  Not an easy process, the crushing, the beating, the hard pressing that seems to go on and on.  But it works.  The bread is shaped.

I'm reminded of how he waits patiently for me to rise.  He doesn't frown on me, tap his toe impatiently, disapprove of my pace.  He covers me with his garment and simply waits for me to look up and grow.

I'm reminded of how he refines me.  He kneads me again, shapes me again, makes me more like he wants me to be.

And he waits, and he watches.  And I rise.

And he puts me in the hot place, knowing that he's created me to make a beautiful aroma when the heat is on.  He's created me to be beautiful, to be wholesome, to feed others.

But that only happens in his hands.

May you be malleable in the hands of God this year as he kneads and shapes you.  May you make a beautiful aroma in the oven's heat, and become the person he created you to be.

Happy New Year!