Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Survey Says … ???

Hi Friends,

Good news - I'm working on my next book idea!  And more good news … I'd love to have your opinion! Below is some info on what I'm thinking about.  This would be a book similar in format to Wrestling with Wonder (except about Sarah instead of Mary). So, can you let me know if you think this book would be one that would speak to the deep places in your life and encourage you in your own journey?

Okay, here's what I have so far for a description and concept … let me know if you like it!

A Transformational Journey through the Life of Sarah

A unique, contemplative journey through the life of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, to reveal the wonder of a God who does not work according to our timetable.

After 20 years of infertility, Marlo often says she should have a PhD in the art of waiting. Now, she brings her experience to the story of the Bible's Sarah in order to explore the wonder of waiting for those who find themselves on a long journey toward the promised land.

Because God’s timing is so rarely our own...

It’s easy to believe God when a promise is new, fresh, bubbling with life.  It’s hard when the years pass and nothing changes.  It’s hard to keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing.  It’s hard when those you love betray you, when desperation strikes, when your own plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness.  But God is calling us to more.  He is calling us, as He called Sarah, to wonder ... to laughter in the face of the impossible. 

Because we lose the wonder in the waiting of life ... 

Who is this God who makes impossible promises, and then asks us to wait?  Who is He who shows us the stars in the sky while there is no baby in the bedroom? Who is He when months turn to years and stretch to decades and still the promise remains unfulfilled? Who is this God of long intervals, painful delays, and yet-unanswered prayer?

He is the God of the waiting room. He is the God of the stars when we don’t see even a glimmer of light. He is the God of a million beaches when we can’t even hold a single grain of sand. He is the God who calls us to trust Him in the in-between places.  He calls us to the wonder of waiting. 

Because Sarah shows us God -- Determined, breath-taking, and beyond all our plans...

Who is this God?  For us, like Sarah, following God’s call isn’t about a life of ease, of every-prayer-answered when we want, or easy faith.  It’s about His tireless commitment to “bless the whole world” through us.  It’s about being a part of God’s-Promise-Come-True when it seems like all hope is long dead and gone.  It’s about discovering a God who asks “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” and always has the last laugh.

Sarah’s story illuminates all of our stories because it shows us the depth and purposes of a God who does not act in our timing but in His own.  By traveling with her through the pages of this book, readers will find their perspective transformed from discouragement to hope, from frustration to deep joy.  By Waiting for Wonder, they will find a God who takes their breath away ... even, and especially, in those moments when He seems to be taking too long.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Have You Read Veil of Fire? Here's Your Chance!

Hi Friends,

Do you ever feel like you've been burned by life? Do you feel hurt, scarred, and sometimes just want to hide? Do you long for the hope of Jesus' aletheia (unhidden truth)?  If so...

Here's some great news -- my publisher will be offering Veil of Fire FREE for two days as an ebook, starting THURSDAY Feb 19 thru FRIDAY Feb 20. Afterward, it will be for sale at the greatly-reduced price of $2.99 until March 21.  After that, it goes back to the regular ebook price of $9.99.  So, if you missed this ACFW Book of the Year winner, and want a compelling, hope-and-wonder filled read full of mystery and an unexpected twist … now's your chance to snatch up a copy.  (Remember, sale starts Thursday!)

Here are a few links:

And here's a bit about it:
A Raging Firestorm . . .
A Light in the Hills . . .
And a Mystery Rises from the Ash.

In 1894, the worst firestorm in Minnesota history descends on the town of Hinckley.  Heat, flame, and darkness sweep through the town, devouring lives, destroying hope.  In the aftermath, the town rises from the ashes, its people determined to rebuild their lives. 

But in the shadows, someone is watching.  Someone is waiting.  Someone who knows the secrets that can free them all.  A rumor begins of a hermit in the hills - a person severely burned, disfigured beyond recognition.  Doubts rise.  Fear whispers.  Is the hermit a monster or a memory?  An enemy or a love once-lost? 

Based on historical events, Veil of Fire beckons to a time when hope rose from the smoke of sacrifice, when trust hid behind a veil of fear, when dreams were robed in a mantle of fire . . .

And here's the opening:
Sometimes, when the wind blows just right over the fields, I can still smell the spice of her perfume. Sometimes, when the dandelion seeds dip and twirl across the sky, I see the way the silk slipped through her fingers, how the needle flashed in her hands. In and out. In and out. The seam straight, perfect. I pause to listen to the warble of a common loon, and in it hear the soft echo of her laughter. Lilting. Faint. Fading.

Then the sky turns dark. The wind stills. The bird is silenced. And in that moment, I am returned to the day my world burned. The day that changed everything I am, everything I was.

Listen, the silence whispers.
See, the darkness beckons.
So I wait. I remember. And in that quiet, in-between place, she lives again.

If you still aren't convinced...
What Others are Saying about Veil of Fire:
Reading Veil of Fire is like feasting on a banquet of rich words and vivid images.
─Tricia Goyer, award-winning author of five novels, including A Valley of Betrayal

Moving. Heartbreaking. Compelling. This beautiful, sensitive story of pain, loss, and, ultimately, healing touched the deepest parts of my heart. 
 ─Laura Jensen Walker, author of Miss Invisible and Reconstructing Natalie

A truly gifted storyteller, Marlo Schalesky has woven a beautiful tale that confronts readers with truth and the character of God. Her lyrical style and deep characterization will transport you into a story populated with unforgettable characters.
─Judith Miller, author of the Bells of Lowell, Lights of Lowell, and Freedom’s Path series

Veil of Fire is a lovely, well-crafted story of love and loss, redemption and restoration. Marlo Schalesky has written an original, unpredictable story that will stay with me for a long, long time.
─Annette Smith, author of A Bigger Life

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When Life is Crazy…Here's Hope!

Hi Friends,

Sometimes Life just doesn't make sense. I was reminded of that yesterday when I looked out my office window to find a black bull (actually, it turned out to be a steer) in my backyard, along with two stray cats.  The bull was grazing, the cats were yowling at each other.  The dogs were barking. Up at the barn, the horses were whinnying (and Mugsy was smashing up his pen panels so I had to replace one and try to straighten the bent one by running over it with the tractor). Meanwhile, the power went out and I got an email from Bethany saying she was being called into the dean's office at school and she was terrified because she didn't know what she'd did wrong (turns out she was called in to be disciplined for her dying her hair blue … except she hadn't dyed it and it wasn't blue … a case of mistaken identity perhaps?) Then Jayna had forgotten her lunch at home and I forgot to bring it to her at lunchtime when I was picking up Jayden.  This all happened within forty minutes of my day yesterday.

This morning the chinchillas were loose having escaped their cage sometime in the night (someone didn't latch the door properly) and Ruby was out of her pen at the barn (someone didn't latch her door properly either) and had made a mess of the hay.  And now I need to do our taxes.

But the thing that heaviest on my heart this morning is that a wonderful friend who's been in the hospital has become unresponsive and the doctors don't expect her to live.

And so I grapple with the mystery of God … and I realize, yet again, that I have no answers.

So return to the story of Mary, Jesus' mother, and ponder the shepherds' visit after Jesus was born.  And I find a bit of the peace I need this morning in embracing the mystery of a God like this.

Here is a bit from WRESTLING WITH WONDER that is helping me today...

Having No Answers

So often we think that the closer we are to Christ, the more answers we must have. But Mary teaches us that is not necessarily true. The shepherds have no questions, no doubts, no wonderings. But Mary does. The one who has carried him in her womb, held him in her arms, is the one who has no answers. She is the one who ponders the paradoxes and treasures them in her heart.

She is called to live with the mystery of a messiah who is already so different from what she could have imagined. She ponders and treasures the mystery of things that cannot yet make sense.

            The question is, will we? One scholar points out, “The Holy Spirit does not overshadow Mary to give her divine insight to understand what everything means. It is sometimes hard to see what God is doing when one is living in the midst of the events.”

So why is it that so often we feel we need to make explanations for what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us? If the shepherds came to us, would we explain why the babe was in a feeding trough? Would we excuse the stink, the poverty, the rough rags and splintered wood? Would we spout platitudes or deny the strangeness of what is true?

Would we say:
It’s not really that bad. (It’s not really a feeding trough.)
I don’t mind. (I didn’t want a real room.)
God is good, so I have nothing to complain about. (These aren’t really rags.)  

What if instead we saw God for who he really is? The God who provides only a trough for his own Son’s crib. The God who sends shepherds to a baby wrapped in rags. The God who leaves heaven to become a baby in poverty. The God who does things in our lives that we don’t understand, that don’t seem to make sense, that aren’t supposed to … yet.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Our Amazing Gift of Mercy

Hi Friends,

I’ve been waiting for the right time to tell you about a beautiful, amazing gift we’ve received that has touched me deeply.  You probably remember that not so long ago we lost Joelle’s wonderful little rescue pony, Pippin, in a freak accident.  We’ve all been mourning his loss (we miss him so!), but someone did something beautiful for us, and especially for Joelle, that has been a gift of mercy and hope.

Marlene, who runs Valley View Equine Rescue where we adopted Pippin, called me the other day to tell me how sorry they all were about Pip, and to ask a question.  The question she asked brought tears to my eyes.  She asked if she could give Joelle a gift.  And what a gift it was!

Months before, Marlene had rescued a beautiful, young mare.  A girl who was sweet and willing and eager to learn.  The strange thing was, though, that each time they worked with her, Marlene kept thinking about us.  We didn’t need another horse, so why did we keep coming to mind?  But when she got the tragic news about Pip, she knew, and she acted with a kindness and generosity that fills me with gratitude and wonder.

She asked if it would be okay to give Joelle this sweet, kind mare.  A outright gift that stunned us, and especially Joelle, with its beauty.

So we went down to the ranch, fell in love, and brought home a little grey-and-white cutie.  She and Joelle have been doing so well together - each helping to heal the heart-hurts of the other.  

And each time I see them together, I am amazed at the wonder and love of God, who ...

  1. Put us on Marlene’s heart for this mare long before Pip’s horrible accident.  God had planned a gift of mercy for a grieving little girl far in advance.
  2. Showed us His love through the kindness and generosity of Marlene who is a beautiful woman with a big, big heart.  We are soooooo grateful for her and thank God for putting her in our lives.
  3. Comforted us in our grief, and remembered that Joelle is just 11 after all ... I’m so thankful that in her hurt He brought an unlooked-for, unanticipated gift of hope.
Of course our new mare doesn’t replace Pip.  Nothing can replace our happy, loving Pippin!  But as I watch Joelle work with her new little mare, as I see her leaning close to her face, whispering in her ear, I feel the kiss of God’s mercy and I know that in our pain, in our loss, God does not leave us bereft.  He sends hope; he sends love; he sends people with kind, giving hearts ... and sometimes he sends a sweet grey and white mare ... to remind us that there is still beauty, there is still wonder, even in the midst of tears and loss.

So thank you Marlene, thank you God, and thank you little paint mare who has come as a special gift of mercy to be a special gift of love.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. 

-- Lamentations 3:22-24 --