Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Do You Do With Loss?

Hi Friends,

Jayden lost his very first baby tooth this week (it needed just a little help from Dad), and Joelle had to have a baby tooth pulled by the dentist because it was stuck and wouldn't come out.

And that got me thinking about loss and maturity.

Growing into maturity in Christ can be a lot like losing baby teeth.  It hurts, there can be some blood, and it's a little scary.  But those baby teeth that served us well when we were little must come out so that the adult teeth can grow in straight and healthy.  We must lose the things of our infancy to gain the things of maturity.  And sometimes we need help from our Father.  Sometimes we need help from a professional.

Loss is a part of growing up, becoming the grown-ups in Christ that we are meant to be.

What kind of loss have you suffered lately?  Could it be that God is making a space for something new, something mature, something bigger and better?

So, mourn your losses, but also look forward to God growing something new, straighter, stronger, and more mature in the empty space created by loss.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” --Philippians 3:8

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Dream to Die For . . .

Hi Friends,

I'd wanted this post for "Throwback Thursday" yesterday, but alas, the day got away from me, so here it is for Throwback Friday (which doesn't quite have the same ring to it).  Anyway, I wrote this over 20 years ago (!!!) and it still warms my heart and gives me hope and vision for today.  It's what I think Jesus is whispering in our souls.

So here you go, enjoy this word from Jesus, soak in it, and wrap yourself in the love of Christ today!

A Dream to Die For
a Message from Christ

Listen to my dream ... a dream beyond imagination, a dream of love, a dream of life, a dream that echoes though all the annals of time, from the foundation of the world through its destruction, a dream of passion and sacrifice ... yes, a dream to die for.  
In my dream, I saw you there, you, who I love more than all of my creation.  You were so beautiful, a spotless image, vibrant, free.  The sun shimmered across your radiant garments and shone bright in your face.  You took my breath away as we danced through the fields of heaven, hand in hand, our laughter ringing unhindered through the trees.  Eternity sang for us, you and I, a young couple newly in love.
And I longed for my dream to become reality.  I yearned to take you in my arms and love you.  How my heart cried out for you, but you would not hear.  I called to you, wept for you, dreamt for you, but my voice echoed back to me in the silence.  Why would you not hear me?  Why would you not share my dream?
So, I came to you, lowly, as a babe in a manger.  I became like you so that you might know me and love me.  But, it was not enough.  No, still you scorned me and turned away.  Still I dreamt for you dreams of love and laughter, dreams of freedom, of joy.  But, you would not join me.  Why would you not dance with me?
So, I healed your wounds, cured your illnesses, forgave your sins.  I walked with you and talked with you.  I showed you the dream.  Yet, you would not stay with me.  I answered your prayers, and you thanked me, and were gone.  Why did you still flee from me?  Did not my love flow freely through my hands, my voice, my heart?  Why would you not share my dream?
So, I offered myself up for you.  As I was spat upon and mocked, it was your face I held in my mind.  When I was accused, I remained silent.  For the dream, I was silent.  As the cords bit deep into my back, I whispered a prayer for you.  As blood spattered onto the cold ground, it was for you that I did not cry out.  I saw you there before me, dressed in white, pure, blameless, and beautiful.  When they stripped me and divided my clothes among them, I remembered the dream.  But, still it was not enough.  You cried out, "Crucify him!  Crucify him!"  Though I bled for you, you would not share my dream.
When the nails were driven deep, all I saw was you.  The price was not too high for such a beautiful bride, the love of my life.  Do you know how much I loved you then?  I can still feel the piercing pain as the spikes drove deep and blood coursed onto bare flesh.  Yet, it was not enough.  You scorned me still.  Why would you not dance with me?  Did not the nails prove my love for you?
So, I dreamt again of you, and loved you.  I saw you there, as I hung above the earth.  All I wanted was to give you my love.  All I had left was my life.  I gave it for you.
Yes, I had a dream, a dream of you and I, together forever, a dream of love, of joy, of eternity.  So, I spread my arms and died.  

It was enough.  Share my dream.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is God Holding You Back?

Hi Friends,

This is RODEO week here in Salinas, and as I am getting ready to enjoy the rodeo festivities, I'm remembering something God taught me a couple years ago when I carried a flag in the Pageant of the Flags for the rodeo opening ceremonies.

This year, I'm not carrying a flag in the rodeo, but I am at a place where I need to remember again the lesson of God holding me back, and what that might mean in the kingdom.  I need to remember the lesson of my beautiful horse, Jewel.  Maybe you do, too . . .

With Flags Flying

The American flag rustled above me as I urged my horse forward.  I tightened my grip on the flagpole, straightened my elbow, and listened to the first strains of the national anthem filling the rodeo grounds.
My horse, Jewel, edged sideways.  The giant flag, secured to the holder in my stirrup, flapped in the breeze.  Ahead of me, a mare stomped her foot, the loudspeaker squeaked, the crowd stood with cowboy hats over their hearts.
The music shifted.  I adjusted my flag.  The lead horse broke into a lope in front of me.  I followed.
Slowly, we loped along the back fence, turned toward the crowd, and made a perfect circle in time with the horse in front of us.  Above me, the stars and stripes of the flag whipped out full and glorious.  Below me, the rhythmic thud of hooves impacted the dark earth.
The music quickened.  So did Jewel.  She strained agains the reins.  I could almost hear her thoughts: Faster, faster, we have to catch up! 
I held her back, tightening the reins, releasing them, checking her up gently but firmly so that she kept the proper pace.  
She snorted.  I persevered.  Because I knew the pattern.  Two slow circles, then turn and stop in a line, facing the crowd as the flags from all the horses flew in unison.  
It would be beautiful to watch, the horses loping in time with each other, the spacing perfect, the flags flying in a pattern as the music soared.
Beautiful to see, but to Jewel, not much fun to do.  She liked to run.  She wanted to sprint down the rail as fast as her legs would go.  She didn’t want slow circles.  And she certainly didn’t want to stop and stand, waiting, going nowhere.  
She didn’t like it.  
We did it anyway.  
Two circles, followed by standing quietly in a line with the flags blowing in the wind as the music ended.  Jewel snorted.  She pulled at the reins.  She flapped her bottom lip.  
And she obeyed. 
The crowd cheered.  Cameras clicked.  And the flag above me was displayed in all its beauty.
As we exited the track, I thought about how I’m a lot like Jewel.  I want to run straight out toward my goal.  I don’t want to be held back, I don’t want to stand still.  I don’t like it when God pulls back the reins.  
But God knows the pattern for my life.  And sometimes he wants me in the slow circle position.  He wants me to lope quietly behind the lead horse.  He wants me to let his banner fly above me in all its beauty.
And like Jewel, I often snort, chomp at my bit, and tug on the reins.  I flap my lips.  I want to run faster.  I want race along to the end.  I don’t want to follow at all.
I certainly don’t want to wait.  
But even when the waiting doesn’t make sense.  Even when I don’t understand why God is tightening the reins, I need to obey.  I need to lope.  And stand.  And try not fidget. 
Because God has a pattern in mind.  And I want to run it well, beautifully, just like Jewel.  I want his flag to unfurl over my life and be displayed in all its wonder.  
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
To run the pattern that God has marked out for me, sometimes I have to slow down.  Sometimes I have to wait.  I have to trust.  And sometimes it will seem that I am going in circles, or not going anywhere at all.
Those are the times that I have to remember that a great cloud of witnesses in heaven are watching, their cowboy hats over their hearts.  If I can trust, if I can wait, if I can follow the pattern that God has chosen for me, his banner of love will fly full of beauty and wonder above me.  

The pattern I run with others will bring joy to the crowds, to the glory of the God who guides me on the ride of a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Maybe You're Just Hungry For God?

Hi Friends,

Life has been so crazy here these last weeks (well, about a month and a half, actually), and I find myself feeling like Bilbo Baggins when he talked about butter scraped over too much bread.  And (true confessions here), I'm finding myself more irritable, more exhausted, less patient, and a whole lot less joyful that I'd like to be as someone who loves and follows Christ.

But more than that, I find myself hungry.  Starving.  Ravenous for more of Jesus during this crazy/exhausting time.  I need Him.  I need Him to fill me full!

And so I was recalling this little story from when Jayden was younger, which reminds me how it is when life crowds out the Bread of Life and I'm starving for Him.

By Marlo Schalesky

Stew bubbled on the stove.  Cookies baked in the oven.  Jello salad hardened in the refrigerator.  The microwave dinged.
I balanced a pot on my hip, grabbed a wooden spoon, and called over my shoulder.  “Hey, can someone check the sauce?”
My husband stuck his head through the kitchen doorway.  “Smells good in here.”
I blew out a breath.  “It’ll taste good too, if I can get it all ready in time.  See if the sauce is hot.”  I nodded toward the microwave then jabbed my spoon in the direction of the dining room.  “Is the table set?”
“Sure is.”  Bryan strode to the microwave and opened the door.  “Sauce looks perfect.  It’s steaming.”
“Great.  Go ahead and take it to the table.”  I glanced at the clock.  In ten minutes, our guests would arrive.  Ten minutes to stir and mix, taste and cook, prepare and place.  Then, all I wanted to do was sit and feast, and enjoy getting to know the new family from church.
I stuck the wooden spoon into the stew and gave it a twist as Bryan lifted the sauce bowl out of the microwave and moved to the next room.  
I turned back to the stew.  Bubbles popped to the surface.  It did smell good.  I leaned over and took a deep breath.  
A sniffle sounded behind me, followed by a tug on my pantleg.
I looked down.
Jayden glared up at me.  His two-year-old lip quivered.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
He pointed toward the living room.  “Sister mean.”
“What happened?”  
He folded his arms across his chest.  “Took toy.”
I sighed.  “Did she take your penguin toy away again?”  
He stared at the floor.  “I no like penguin.”
“But it’s your favorite.”
“No like.”  He sat down and scowled.  Tears rolled down his cheeks.  
“Well, our friends are coming in just a minute.  Maybe you want to go put together a puzzle while we wait.”
“No like puzzle.”
“How about your blocks, then?  Sister won’t take your blocks.”
“No like blocks.”
“Your train set?”
“Hate train.”
I squatted down in front of him.  “Well, you just don’t like anything, do you?”
“Me mad.”
“Yes, I see that.”  I stood back up and took the stew off the stove.  Then, I picked up a ladle and spooned the stew into a large serving terrine.  
“What dat?”
I glanced down.  “Stew.  You want some?”
He sniffed.  “Like stew.”
Ah, that was the problem.  Jayden was hungry.  And like his daddy, he got grumpy when when he was overdue to eat.
I ladled a bit of stew into a small bowl, blew it cool, and set it on the kitchen table.  “Sit on up and eat.”
He did.
Five minutes later, he licked his lips, pushed back his empty bowl, and grinned.  “I play sisters now.  We play penguin.  Puzzles too.”
“Okay, you go play.”
He trotted off.  
As I carried the stew terrine to the dining room table, I wondered if it wasn’t only Jayden and Bryan who got cranky when they were hungry.  Maybe I was that way too.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry...” (John 6:35, NIV)
So when I’m anxious and irritable, when nothing seems right, when I “no like” life, maybe I’m just hungry for more of Jesus.  Perhaps it’s not about sister being mean, or the penguin, or the puzzle.  Maybe it’s just about needing to gobble up more scripture, chew on more truth, do more than just nibble at the corners of my prayer life.  Perhaps I need to fill up on more time with God, tasting the goodness of His presence with me.

These days when my husband seems inconsiderate, when I don’t like my job, when people don’t treat me like I think they should,  before I start casting blame, I try to remember Jayden and make sure I’m all filled up.  Then, I can go out and play with a much better attitude, even if someone is just a little bit mean.