Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reflections on Judas

Hi Friends,

I'm working on revisions for Wrestling with Wonder and added in little bit about Judas and the choices we make in the chapter about approaching the tombs in our lives.  I was thinking about how we have the choice to approach our "tombs" with trembling, coming to Jesus even in our fear and sorrow, or we can be like Judas and run away from our failures, deny the truth, and end up dying in our despair.

We must come to the tomb, even when there seems no hope.  Come, because Jesus is there . . .

And as I was pondering, I found an old story I wrote from Jesus' perspective, as if he's speaking to Jesus.  I asked, "What would Jesus say to Judas . . .to you, and to me?" Would he condemn, despise . . . or speak of love and forgiveness, of hope, even on the eve of his betrayal?

Here's that old story:

Ah, Judas, what have you done?  Did you not remember the days we walked together and talked together?  Did you forget how we shared our sorrows, our victories, our dreams?  Do you remember how your heart used to beat with mine, how much you loved me?  You cared for me once.  You believed.  You loved.  What happened to you, Judas?  What have you done?

I know your frustration and your fear.  I know the dreams that died in you.  I have felt the stinging edge of your anger.  Oh, Judas, through it all, I have loved you!  When did it start, my friend?  When did the doubts begin to eat away at your faith, until there was nothing left but betrayal?  Was it when I treated you no differently than the others, gave you no higher place?  Was not my love enough?  Or, perhaps, the lure of the money box poisoned your soul?  Was it worth it, Judas?  When I did not conform to your demands, was that when your heart soured against me?  Judas, do you know what you have lost?

I watched you beside me last night, and inside my heart I wept for you.  If only my love could have brought you back to me.  But it was too late, you had already been hardened by sin and satan.  If only you had trusted me.  If only you had not rejected my love.  The mask you wore was a good one.  No one else saw the intent in your heart.  No one else dreamed of what you had planned.  "Surely, not I, Lord," they all said.  I saw you wince and turn away.  Did you have your doubts then?  Almost, you repented.  But it was too late, your heart was committed to betrayal.  How I ached for you!

Oh Judas, why do you betray me?  Do you know my pain, my sorrow, my love for you?  What more could I have done for you?  Yet, you thrust it all aside, for what?  What have you gained through your betrayal?  Is the anger in your soul appeased?  Your fear?  Your frustration?  Where are you now?

But Judas, you are no different than all the others.  They will all betray me.  Even my most beloved will turn the knife of betrayal in my heart.  Judas, you are everyone, and they are you.  No one is exempt.  Will they see themselves in you and turn again to love me?  Will they weep in repentance, or, like you, hang themselves with pride?  Will they remember my love for them and turn from evil intent?  Will they look to you and shudder, knowing that your fears are not far from their own?  Yes, you are everyone, and they are you.

Judas, my friend, my betrayer, don't you know that I love you still, despite the thrusting knife of your betrayal.  

Ah, Judas, have you not realized, this night I die for you. . .

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BELOVED by Robin Lee Hatcher

Hi Friends,

Here's a new book by my friend, Robin Lee Hatcher, that I wanted to tell you about!  This is the info from Robin:

Where the Heart Lives series
Setting: 1900 Boise, Idaho

To say the least, it was inconsiderate of Diana’s almost-dead husband to show up at her 
engagement party.

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word from him in years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, claiming to be a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.

He agrees with one condition—she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.


About the Author:

Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She discovered her vocation after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other awards, Robin is also a recipient of the prestigious RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the author of 70 novels and novellas with over four million copies in print.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Her main hobby (when time allows) is knitting, and she has a special love for making prayer shawls. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).


A Note from Robin:

I love second chance love stories, and Tyson Applegate desperately needs a second chance with Diana. He easily won her the first time with his charm and good looks, but it will take more than that to make up for breaking her heart and cause her to love him again. Although I don't have favorite books that I've written, I do have some favorite characters. Tyson and Diana are two of them. I wanted very much to give them a happy ever after ending.

Beloved is the third and final book in the Where the Heart Lives series. Although I am careful to make each book stand alone, if readers want to get the first two books in the series, Belonging (http://www.robinleehatcher.com/books/belonging/) and Betrayal (http://www.robinleehatcher.com/books/betrayal/) ebooks are on sale for $1.99 until September 30th. Easy purchase links to Amazon, B&N, and ChristianBook can be found by following the links to the book pages.

I love to hear from readers so I hope you'll drop by my web site and blog (http://www.robinleehatcher.com) and visit me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/robinleehatcher). I always have a giveaway going on Goodreads, and readers can find the current giveaway on the home page of my web site. In addition, I frequently have a different giveaway going on the Rafflecopter tab on my Facebook Page. So be sure to check those out. And if you sign up for my newsletter, you get a free copy of my short story, The Huckleberry Patch.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Take a Moment to Refresh . . .

Hi Friends,

Need a moment alone with God, a moment of refreshment and peace, silence and solitude?  If so, check out this poem -- my very first published work!  I found it buried in my files and it turned out to be a whisper of God's love and hope to me.

I hope you find it refreshing too!

The Trysting Place
See the beauty of this glade.  Wisdom dwells herein.
Butterflies flit above the grass, never knowing sin.
The brook splashes happily upon a glittering stone.
A tree stretches toward it, standing all alone.
Grass gleams with morning dew, dancing in the breeze,
Creating ripples across the water, rustling through the trees.
Across the shimmering surface, tiny insects play,
Drawing pictures always new of leaves that dance and sway.
A single tiny squirrel darts errantly up a tree,
Gazing from his lofty perch, quiet tranquility.
Beauty reigns in this place, touching azure sky,
Never letting evil in, nor allowing peace to die.
Here fear does not come, for it does not dare
To disturb the soft serenity of my heart's quiet prayer.
When confusion haunts me, this is where I go,
To find the solace of my God, to escape the world's woe.
Here Jesus waits for me, arms stretched wide in love,
Beckoning me to the trysting place, only He and I know of.
Where is this place of heavenly light where I sometimes roam?
'Tis found deep within my heart, where Christ has made His home.

**The Trysting Place appeared in the April 17, 1994 edition of the Standard , a Sunday School take-home paper for the Church of the Nazarene.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Encountering Christ TODAY

Hi Friends,

First, I pause to remember God's graciousness and comfort a dozen years ago when the United States was attacked by evil.  And I ponder Paul's words in light of such attacks . . .

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm . . .
--Ephesians 6

In all your struggles against evil, may you stand!

Meanwhile . . .
Whew, crazy busy week this week with the "we love your manuscript, here's stuff to change" letter coming in from my publisher/editor, a couple articles to write, and also a couple new ministry opportunities.  God is on the move!

So, in the face of sin, evil, sorrow ... and hope, busyness, and opportunity, I've been thinking about the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12.  He too had seen evil and now was faced with opportunity.  I wonder if he felt something like this:

based on Mark 2:1-12, the healing of the paralytic

Never before have I seen
Never in all my life
A man with His mastery
Over sin, death, and strife.
"Your sins are forgiven you,"
He said with hand upraised,
Then healed the man before me.
"Praise God," I cried, amazed.
Who is this one, so like God,
and yet a man like me,
Who heals our broken bodies,
and makes the sinner free?
Who is He who sears my soul
by speaking but a word,
Causing Pharisees to moan
at all that I have heard?
Could it be the Chosen One,
The One for whom we wait?
This One who has shown such love,
Surrounded by our hate?
Could it be He, Messiah,
Who makes my heart to sing,
Come to set our spirits free,
Could it be He, the King?

Could it be the King ... in your life, and in mine.  The One calling us to encounter HIM and be healed and set free.  Free from fear, old patterns, despair, habits ... everything that cripples us inside and out.  

Today, of all days, I want to bring my crippled self, my "paralyzed" friends, my family, my neighbors, and the depths of my very soul to Him.  

Let freedom ring . . . in Jesus.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lessons from the Frog-Headed Man

Hi Friends,

Today is picture day at school for the girls.  So today as we were frantically fixing hair and practicing smiles, I remembered what I learned the last time our family had pictures taken.  Then, God taught me where to look and how to smile ... in life.  

It happened like this:

I knew it was impossible.  It simply couldn’t be done.  Yet there we sat, all eight of us, trying to pose for a photo of the family.  Yes, it was crazy.
            The baby fussed.  The two-year-old jumped up and down and then tried to stand on his head.  The five-year-old twins looked everywhere but the camera.  The eight-year-old attempted to get the two-year-old to stand up, and the oldest kept making faces at the baby, hoping to get her to stop crying.  I waved my hand in front of the group and tried to get them to look forward.
            I grimaced.  Just what I needed, a professional picture of my blurry hand to send to friends and relatives. 
            The photographer stood behind the camera and motioned with one hand.  “Let’s try that again.  Stand closer together please, and look at the camera.”
            Fat chance.
            We squeezed in.  The baby stopped crying.  Jayden stuck a finger up his nose.  Joelle pulled it out.  “Look at the cam--”
            Not again.
            The photographer adjusted the camera.  “Everyone look here and smile.” 
            I did. 
            “Little boy, look at me.” 
            He didn’t. 
            Jayna pointed to the corner of the room.  “Hey, cobwebs.”
            Bethany twisted around.  “Jayna!”
            Everyone squirmed.  And wiggled.  And complained.
            “Joelle’s not looking at the camera.”
            “Well, neither are you.”
            “Bethany’s not looking either.”
            “I am too.”
            “No, you’re not.”
            “Bria stop closing your eyes.”
            “Dad’s not smiling.”
            “Jayden, stop it.”
            Jayna jumped down from the short box she was standing on.  “Are we done?” 
            The photographer shook his head.  “Not yet.”  He pulled a big stuffed frog from a basket on his left.  It was a floppy thing with wide feet and a red mouth.  He slapped it on his head.  The legs drooped down over his forehead. Then he made funny noises.  Jayden giggled.  Jayna rubbed her nose. 
            The frog waggled.
            The kids wiggled.
            “Everyone just look at the frog-headed man!” I shouted. 
            They all looked up, even the baby. 
            The photographer peeked from around the camera.  “Mom, you too, please.”
            “What?  Oh yeah.”  I stared and the frog and pasted on a smile.
            The photographer breathed out a sigh.  “I think we got it.”
            “Really?  Everyone’s looking?  Their eyes are all open?” 
            “Yep, this is a good one.”
            And it was... all eight of us looking at the camera and most even smiling. 
            That day, I discovered that the only way to get a good picture was by all fixing our eyes on the frog-headed man. When one of us stopped looking ahead, and instead gazed off in our own direction or when we started looking at each other and telling each other to "look at the camera, smile, don't close your eyes," we couldn't get a decent picture. It was only when each person decided to focus and smile, and let the photographer correct the others, that we got a good picture at last.
            I was reminded of Hebrews 12:2 (NIV), where we're encouraged to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."  Life in Christ works a lot like a family photo. The only way to get a good shot is if I fix my eyes on Jesus rather than looking around to see if everyone else is doing it right. When I fix my eyes on Jesus, and keep them there, he will perfect my faith. When I fix my eyes on how others are falling short, my own faith falters.
            I’ve found that life works a lot better when I allow God to correct others, to help them look forward and smile.  When I try to play God for them, then I stop looking where I need to look. I also stop smiling.  So from now on, I’m going to allow Jesus to be the true photographer in my life, and in the lives of those around me.  And I hope he won’t need to wear a frog on his head to keep my attention.