Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Poolside Lessons in Trusting God

Hi Friends,

We're having a bit of heat wave here (well, hot for Salinas), so the girls have been swimming a lot (even at 9pm last night!).

So, I was reminded of this story from when Bethany was younger (told from Bryan's point of view):

Small arms squeezed my neck so hard I thought I would choke.  A small body shivered and shook against me.  Her grip grew tighter. 
I sighed and waded into shallower water.  Waves lapped the sides of pool as other kids swam and leapt and turned somersaults in the water.  Shouts of laughter rippled over the pool’s surface.  I pulled gently at my daughter’s arm.  “Loosen up, sweetheart.  I won’t let go of you.”
“Nooooo.”  Bethany’s whimper grew louder as she dug her fingers deeper into my skin. 
“Swimming is fun.  But you’ve got to let go of Daddy.” 
“I’m s-s-scared.”  Her teeth chattered even though the water was a balmy eighty degrees.
I swallowed and attempted to loosen her grip enough for me to breathe.  But Bethany only grabbed harder, not because she loved me or wanted to be close to me, but only because she was afraid.  This was our third swimming lesson and she still wasn’t brave enough to let go.  I reached for her goggles and put them on her, adjusting them so they fit just right.  “Okay, are you ready to try?” 
“I d-d-don’t know.”
I looked into her goggle-clad eyes.  “You have to trust me.  I’m right here.  Trust me.” 
She took a deep breath. 
“Trust me,” I repeated again. 
This time, Bethany nodded.  “Okay, Daddy.”  Her grip loosened a little bit.  Then a little bit more.  And a little more. 
I sidled toward the edge of the pool, then took her hands and placed them on the edge.  Next, I stepped back until I stood three feet away.  “Push off and swim to me.  You can do it.” 
Bethany studied the distance. 
I reached out with both hands. 
With a push and a splash, she was in the water on her own, then in my arms again. 
I laughed.  “You did it!”
She laughed back.  “That was fun!” 
“You want to go under the water?”
Her brows bunched in a frown. 
I smiled.  “Trust me.” 
Bethany straightened her shoulders.  “I’m ready.”
And down we went.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  By the end of the lesson, Bethany had discovered a whole new world of fun and adventure.  She could go underwater and look around.  She could “sit” on the bottom of the pool for a whole three seconds.  And she could kick her way from the edge all the way to me without being afraid.  Swimming had ceased to be scary and instead was a joy.  For an hour we swam and played and enjoyed every minute.  Finally, it was time to leave. 
“That was great, Daddy,” Bethany exclaimed as she clamored out of the pool.  “Can we come back tomorrow?  And the day after that?  And the day after that?” 
I chuckled.  “We’ll come back soon.  I promise.” 
I grinned as I watched her scamper into the locker room.  What a difference between the shivering, shaking girl who had climbed into the pool and the happy, exuberant girl who had climbed out.  And it was all because she had decided put aside fear and instead trust her Daddy. 
In some ways, my life with God is not much different from Bethany’s swim lessons.  Romans 8:15 (NIV) says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”  When God calls me to try new things, to stretch past my comfort zone, to step out into the unknown, it’s easy for me, too, to cling to Him out of fear.  But God doesn’t want me to grab onto Him because I’m afraid.  Rather, He wants me to trust Him enough to let go of fear and embrace all the adventures He has for me.  He wants me to learn to live in joy and freedom, to learn how to swim with Him. 
And just like Bethany, I need to loosen my grip and trust God to be there if the waters get too deep.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lessons from Max

Hi Friends,

Wow, what a week already!  I finished the rough draft of Wrestling with Wonder (my book that looks at God through the lens of Mary’s life journey).  Now, I just need to format, edit, give it a couple read-throughs, and it will be ready to send off to my editor.  Yay!

Tonight, I’ll be facilitating theConversations, Coffee, and Chocolate women’s event at our church.  It promises to be a good time of breaking our own expectations of our lives and ourselves to embrace whatever dreams GOD has for us.  I’m looking forward to it!

And finally . . . Max!  As some of you know, a stray dog showed up at our place last Wednesday.  After looking for and calling around to see if he was lost (it doesn’t look like it), we adopted him.  We’ve taken him to the vet, given him two baths, applied flea medicine, bought him a collar, and named him Max.

Everybody loves Max.  Max loves all of us too.

So, here is what I have learned about God from Max so far:

1)  You may be scraggly and scared and scrubby, but Someone still loves you and wants to care for you.

2)  That Someone also wants to help you be clean and well-fed.  You don’t have to get yourself clean before you come to that Someone, but you do have to be willing to submit to His care.  He will make you clean.  He will feed you what you need to grow strong.

 3)  It’s better to submit and accept the Love that’s given you.  You don’t need to growl and snap (Max didn’t!).  Accept Love and be grateful . . . even if it means a few uncomfortable shots to help make you well.

4)  Be joyful!  Wag your tail and make those around you happy ... because you were once lost and now you’re found.  You were once filthy and now you’re clean.  You were cast out but now Someone has adopted you and called you His own.

5)  Rejoice!  Let yourself be well-loved by God!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Bride for All Seasons by Clopton, Brownley, Connealy & Hatcher

Hi Friends,

Here's the scoop on a new book that I wanted to tell you about this week:

by  Debra Clopton, Margaret Brownley, Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher

It All Started with an Ad in a Mail Order Bride Catalogue…
Melvin Hitchcock of the Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalogue isn’t dishonest—not exactly. If he tweaks his clients’ applications a bit, it’s because he’s looking out for their best interests.
This charming bouquet of novellas introduces four Hitching Post prospects in the year 1870, each one eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they’ll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.
“And then Came Spring” by Margaret Brownley
Mary-Jo has traveled halfway across the country to meet her match, arriving just in time for his funeral. Returning home seems like her only option until her would-be brother-in-law proposes a more daring idea.
“An Ever After Summer” by Debra Clopton
Ellie had no idea she’s not what Matthew ordered. And what’s wrong with being a “Bible thumper” anyway? She’s determined to show him she’s tougher than she looks—and just the girl he needs.
“Autumn’s Angel” by Robin Lee Hatcher
Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn’t come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. ­ The trouble is, there’s no money to send them back . . .
“Winter Wedding Bells” by Mary Connealy
David’s convinced he’s not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he’s gone—nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?

To read an excerpt from Robin Lee Hatcher's novella, click here: http://robinleehatcher.com/a-bride-for-all-seasons-excerpt/


“Delightful at every turn, A Bride For All Seasons gives the “mail order bride plot” a creative—and addictive—new twist. I couldn’t read fast enough. With spunk, humor, and tenderhearted romance this anthology is truly made to order!” — Tamera Alexander, USA Today bestselling author of To Whisper Her Name and The Inheritance

“Four popular authors have penned an engaging novella collection with a creative and humorous premise. From distressing to delightful, A Bride for all Seasons bounces your emotions around like they’ve been on a bumpy 1800s stagecoach ride, with each story arriving at a highly satisfying ending.” — Vickie McDonough, award-winning author of 27 books and novellas, including the Pioneer Promises series 


Margaret Brownley:  "I love reading mail-order bride stories and I don't know what took me so long to write one.  And Then Came Spring  is about a gambler's daughter who travels west expecting to wed the man with whom she's been corresponding.  Things sure don't turn out the way she expected., but where love is concerned they rarely do. I hope you enjoy all four stories in  A Bride For All Seasons  as much as I enjoyed working with these three terrific authors." http://www.margaretbrownley.com/

Debra Clopton: "I had such a great time writing An Ever After Summer for A Bride For All Seasons! This may be my first 1800's western historical but it won't be my last. What a blast! My Mule Hollow series from Love Inspired may have the 'Matchmaking Posse' but these mail order brides have Melvin Hitchcock editor of the Hitching Post Mail Order Bride catalogue and he gives the Posse a run for their money on matchmaking! I do believe my readers will love this collection and if you loved Samantha the donkey--then An Ever After Summer has a surprise waiting for you inside..." http://debraclopton.com

Mary Connealy: "We all worked together so well and had so much fun brainstorming A Bride for All Seasons. I am working with creative, talented professionals here and I learned so much...and had a great time while I was learning. I hope you enjoy reading this book, including my contribution, Winter Wedding Bells, as much as I enjoyed writing it." http://www.maryconnealy.com/

Robin Lee Hatcher: "I had great fun writing my novella, Autumn's Angel, for this collection. It allowed me to return to Grand Coeur, the setting for my novel, Heart of Gold, and to revisit some of the characters from that book. And I think readers of these mail order bride stories are going to love the meddling owner of the Hitching Post even as they see the chaos he creates for these four couples."  http://www.robinleehatcher.com



(Note: the Rafflecopter form doesn't work without Javascript enabled in your browser)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

God's Love and a Pony named Squishy

Hi Friends!

Well, this week I've been thinking about the newest addition to the Schalesky family -- a little rescue pony named Pippin (aka Squishy).  We haven't brought him home just yet (after all, I did promise Bryan that I would NOT bring the horse trailer with me when we went down to visit the rescue ranch last Saturday), and Joelle is busily earning the whole adoption fee for him herself.  Besides, I have to get a pen ready for him so he has a spot in the barn when he comes home to us.

So, as we prepare, I've been considering how it came to be that we're adopting Pippin, and (of course) I was reminded of God.

You see, it was about a year ago when Joelle first saw Pippin at the rescue ranch's adoption event at the Salinas Rodeo grounds.  There he was, a scraggly little thing in the end pen.  A Chincoteague pony, untrained, unridden, and needing more than we could provide.  They called him Squishy.

And Joelle fell in love.

She petted him, she hugged him, she stared at him with doe eyes.  And he loved every minute.

But I couldn't bring him home.  We couldn't take in another untrained horse, and so I had to say no.

Joelle came home and drew a dozen pictures of Squishy.  She wrote little "I Squishy" notes all over the place.  She didn't cry.  She didn't whine.  She didn't fuss.  But she held Squishy in her heart.

Then, last week, Marlene from the rescue ranch posted a couple pictures of Squishy being ridden at the rescue ranch.  I saw.  I remembered.  I inquired.

Not because I need another horse.  Not because that little Chincotegue pony is perfect and the best horse in the world.  No, it was because I love Joelle, I remember the desires of her heart, and what matters to her matters to me.

And in that moment, God whispered to me, "I am like that too."  How incredible, how wonderful, how beautiful is that?!  I am his child.  He loves me.  He remembers.  And what matters to me matters to him just because of his amazing love me.

If I, an imperfect (there's an understatement!) mother, can remember a fuzzy little pony and make a way for him to be Joelle's, then how much more does God remember the desires of my heart, how much more is he working to open opportunities for joy for me?

And how much easier is it, then, to trust in that love, to trust in HIS timing.

We weren't ready for Squishy (we've renamed him Pippin, after the hobbit!) a year ago.  Joelle wasn't ready.  But we're ready now.  When we visited him at the rescue ranch, Joelle had eyes for no one else.  And little Pippin claimed us as "his humans."  It was a match that took a long time in coming, but now the timing is right.

So as we get ready to go back down to the ranch to see (and ride!) Pippin on Saturday, I am pondering this amazing love that God has for me - the love of a parent who remembers, who cares, who loves, who wants to give good things to me, his daughter ... good things, but in the right time.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me Your love through a sweet little Chincoteague pony.