Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

When Someone Loses a Loved One

Hi Friends,

I got a call late Sunday night from my friend, Pam.  "Marlo, it's Whammy," she said through sobs.  "I lost my husband tonight."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing (in fact, I still can barely believe it), but it was true.  Pam's husband, Rachel and Sam's dad, our friend, died in a quad accident Sunday night.

We're going to miss him -- his big smile, his generous heart, his laugh and the way he was always glad to see you.

He was a good man, a kind man.  Our lives will be less rich now that he's gone.  His family's will be too.  Our hearts ache for his wife, his son, and his daughter (who is good friend of our girls').

So, as I think about Dave, his family, and the upcoming funeral that we'll be officiating at (1:00pm this Friday at SVCC, with reception to follow at the Golf & Country Club across the street), I think about how Jesus understands what this family is going through. I think about Rachel and Sam and how Jesus, too, lost an earthly father in Joseph.  Jesus knew what it was to grieve for a father who had died.  Jesus knows now too.  He knows how to comfort those who are grieving.  He knows what it means, and He is there, so near to the broken-hearted.

I want to know how to offer comfort too.  I want to be near, like Jesus.

And so, here are some tidbits of advice for comforting those who have lost someone they love:

--   Say simply, “I’m so sorry.”  At this time, you can give the person a hug, squeeze his/her hand reassuringly, or place your hand gently on his/her shoulder.  Small physical demonstrations such as these can be a soothing balm to the person’s emotions.
--   Say, “I’ll be supporting you with my prayers during this tough time.” Then pray!
--   Also pray for God’s help, sensitivity, and guidance in all your interactions with the grieving person.  Remember that the Holy Spirit himself is our Comforter.
--   If you knew the deceased, share something (briefly) that you appreciated about him/her.  A simple “I’ll never forget how Charlie helped me when  . . .” can be a great comfort.
--   Ask if you can help by bringing over a meal, looking after small children for a few hours, or making any necessary phone calls.  If they must leave town for the funeral, ask if they need a ride to the airport, or if you can look after their pets or water their plants while they’re away.

--   Offer a sympathetic ear a few days after the funeral/memorial service is over.  Often people will feel like talking about the service and their memories of the deceased after their initial grief has subsided.  Taking the person out to a one-on-one lunch can provide the perfect opportunity.

--   Don’t ask if the deceased was a Christian.  What will you say if the answer is no?
--   Don’t give advice.  Let people grieve in their own way.
--   Don’t talk about your own grief (i.e. when your Aunt Edith died, or when your cousin was in an accident, or especially when you lost a beloved pet). This will only make the other person feel awkward, as if they have to comfort you, instead of the other way around!
--   Don’t trivialize others’ grief with comments such as “You should be happy that Charlie’s gone on to heaven,” or “At least Claire lived a full life,” or “Maybe it’s better this way.”
--   Don’t put on a happy face.  As Proverbs 25:20 (RSVP) says, “He who sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on a wound.”

Now, as I seek to offer comfort to those who are grieving, I try to keep these guidelines in mind, remembering the counsel of Proverbs 12:18 (NIV):  “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ten Tips for Taming a Hair-Raising Week

Hi Friends,

Well, this is the kind of week it's been (see picture of Bria -- ha ha, yes it's for real!).  It's been a little crazy, a little wild, a little wide-eyed and scary.  But a lot of wind of the Spirit too.

So here are ten tips I've used this week for my "hairy" times:

1) Take a moment to breathe.  Really breathe. Take another moment.

2) Let God arrange and maintain my schedule, and trust Him to do it right.

3) Take a walk alongside the beach on the busiest day of all.  Feel the sun and ocean breeze.  Breathe again.

4) Laugh more, stress less … even if it's really not that funny.

5) Ponder an odd scripture verse (For me this week: Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. --Isaiah 28:28)

6) Eat your favorite food (i.e., Maui Zaui pizza from Round Table).

7) Ask for help.  Keep asking until you get some.

8) Engage fully in what you're doing at the moment and don't worry about the other 19 things on your to-do list for the day … at least not right now.

9) Find a picture that makes you giggle (see photo above).

10) Be kind to others, especially the most annoying ones.

And those are ten tips to help tame a hair-raising week!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Fine Art of Waiting

Hi Friends,

Today I'm doing the final proof-reading of my upcoming book, Wrestling with Wonder.  I am on the chapter where Mary sees her son turn water into wine, and she sees so much more.

For those who are in the "waiting place" of life, this chapter is for you.  Here is the introduction to the chapter … to give you something to ponder, and to encourage you!

The Fine Art of Waiting

What does wonder look like in the land of waiting? What if you go months, years, decades, believing in God’s power and promises, but not seeing that power revealed in your circumstances? Mary has been there, in the waiting place. She believed the angel’s words in Luke 1, she sang of what God would do in her Magnificat, but now decades have passed. Jesus has not stepped forward in power, has not revealed his majesty, has not conquered Rome. Then, tucked away at a wedding in Galilee, she hears those words again: “My hour has not yet come.”
            Yet, a transformation is about to take place. Not only of water into wine, but of Mary herself. From mother to follower. From parent to disciple.
            So, as we wrestle with a God who asks us to wait, God is beckoning us to come to a wedding at Cana. As we struggle to understand a God who sometimes does not come through with the power we are looking for in the timeline we want, he is inviting us to come alongside Mary. As we question a God who sees the need and still says “not yet,” he calls us to watch Mary touching the sleeve of her son. To hear her words: “They have no wine.”

            Let us wait with her. Because transformation will come. Of water. Of stone jars. Of need. Of worry. Of the waiting itself. Because we too will be transformed.