Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Grateful & Grace-Filled … Even on Bad Days??

Hi Friends,

Today as I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, and near my wit's end, God reminded me of this story of Jayden from last year. He reminded me that even on the hard days, I am called to be grateful and grace-filled … especially when I feel like it the least.

Here's the story of Jayden and his green shirt that helped me:

It was just a green shirt. A simple green, cotton shirt with the image of a football on the front and white stripes on the sleeves. The perfect shirt for a five-year-old boy to wear with khaki shorts and tennis shoes on a warm day in September.
At least I thought so.
But Jayden didn’t.
Not at all.
He pattered down the stairs in his pajamas and meandered into the kitchen. I popped a couple pieces of bread into the toaster and turned toward him. “Good morning, sweetie. Go get dressed. I put your clothes out for you.”
He grunted and ambled toward the clothes in the other room. Then, there was a moment of pure silence, followed by a caterwauling holler. “Nooooooo! No. No. No. No.”
I dropped the butter knife into the sink and ran to the other room.
Jayden lay on the ground with his school clothes scattered all around him. I didn’t see blood or broken bones or even a hundred spiders crawling over the floor. All I saw was a little boy with a red face, pounding his feet, squinting up his eyes. All I heard was another ferocious shout. “I won’t wear it. I WON’T!”
I skidded to a halt. “What are you talking about?”
“I. Won’t. Wear. That. Green. Shirt.”
I blew out a long breath. Oh great, it was going to be one of those mornings when he didn’t like anything and nothing was right. I squared my shoulders. Then, I tried reasoning. “I picked out that shirt for you because it goes perfectly with your shorts.”
“I don’t care.”
“It’s going to be warm today.”
“I won’t wear it.”
“You’ve worn it before without complaining.”
No answer. He flopped over on his belly and scrunched up his face. Then, he howled again. He kicked, he hollered, he refused to get dressed.
“Bryan!” I called for his dad.
And Jayden put on the shirt.
All the way to school, Jayden complained. And I fumed. I grumbled. I took deep breaths and tried to think calming thoughts. Silly, stubborn boy! What was wrong with that kid, throwing a big fit like that over nothing? He needed to learn a little bit about gratefulness, that’s what he needed. I sighed. He was only five, and he did get to bed a little later than usual. But still . . . 
And then came a quiet whisper in my soul. You know, he takes after you...
What?!!? I didn’t throw a fit over a green shirt! Did I?
I stopped fuming. I stopped grumbling. And suddenly I had a whole lot more compassion.
I maybe didn’t holler about a green shirt, but what about when God chose other “clothes” for me that I didn’t like very well? What about when He picked out a garment of praise when I felt like everything was going wrong? And what about when he wanted me to put on an attitude of thankfulness when I was tired and cranky? Or wear forgiveness on my sleeve when I was wronged and the other person didn’t seem repentant? 
Often, I didn’t like that any more than Jayden liked the green shirt. What if Jayden talked to me instead of pitching a fit? What if I talked calmly to God instead of complaining and whining? 
Jayden may be too little for that level of maturity, but I’m not. I’m old enough to know better. I’m old enough to know there’s a big difference between complaints and requests. When God chooses something for me that I don’t like, I shouldn’t kick and holler and sit on the floor with my clothes strewn all about me. I should simply share my heart and ask for what I’d like. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 (NIV), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Next time when God chooses something for me to wear, whether an attitude or a circumstance, whether sackcloth or fine linen, I want to take my own advice. I want to approach God, my heavenly parent, with thankfulness and a quiet request. “Lord, is there another shirt I can wear?” And if he says, “No, this is the only one that goes with what I want for you,” I hope I can accept his answer without yowling and complaining. 

I want to wear whatever shirt God picks out, with gratitude and grace, whether it’s the yucky green one or not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Don't Cut Holes in Your Own Blanket!

Hi Friends,

This week I'm working on the chapter of Waiting for Wonder (the Sarah book) that talks about how Sarah treated the pregnant Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away. I'm thinking about how sometimes we do things that messes up our lives. We "cut holes in our own blanket" (see story below!).

I'm thinking about how Sarah didn't go after Hagar. She wasn't able to restore what she broke. But God did go after Hagar, and brought her back. He was able to restore what Sarah broke.

So, as I ponder and write, and ponder some more, I'm considering rewriting the following story from when Joelle was little. This story talks about how God gives us rules to keep up from cutting up our lives. But I'm also thinking about how he doesn't just leave the gaping holes after we've messed up.

The original story is below. I think I'll rewrite it to emphasize how God also repairs the holes we make, and he does it in ways we could never manage on our own.


I stood there with the blanket in my hands and tears in my eyes.  Light shone through a dozen great, gaping holes in the crocheted blanket.  I had made the blanket for my 3-year-old when I was pregnant with her.  It was to be a special gift, an heirloom, for her to keep into adulthood.  But here it was, filled with holes, with her standing beside me with scissors in her hand.
            “Oh, Joelle, how could you?”
            Her eyes slid away. 
            “You know this is your special blanket.”
            She sniffed and rubbed her nose with the back of her hand.  “I didn’t know.”
            I closed my eyes.  She was right.  She didn’t know.  She didn’t understand how special that blanket was, and that I couldn’t replace it, and it would be almost impossible to repair.  She didn’t understand what that blanket meant to me, and would one day mean to her.  There were a lot of things that didn’t know.
            But there were some things she did know.  One was that she wasn’t allowed to get the scissors out of the drawer.  The other was that she wasn’t to play with her blanket.  She didn’t like those rules, didn’t understand them.  But today showed the results of breaking them -- a blanket filled with holes.
            I took the scissors out of her hand and placed them high up on a shelf.  Then, I folded the blanket into a ball. 
            Joelle chewed her lower lip.  “Can you fix it, Mommy?”
            I shook my head.  “I don’t think so, sweetheart.  You did a bad thing when you cut it up with the scissors.”
            She took a big, gulping sob and then ran to her bed and threw herself into the pillow.        
            I stood there and didn’t follow.  Truth was, I didn’t know what to do or what to say.  Nothing could make it all better now.  She would just have to live with the consequences, now and into the future.  That’s just how it would be.
            I went downstairs, spread the blanket on a table, and tried to figure out how I make salvage the mess.  As I did, I thought about her words, “I didn’t know.” 
            How often do I say that same thing to God?  I didn’t know that little white lie would come back to bite me.  I didn’t know that if I just kept stubbornly pushing for my way, I’d end up regretting it.  I didn’t know that if I was rude to that person I would pay for it later.  I didn’t know a lot of things.
            But I did know that God calls me to the truth, all the time.  I knew that God wants me to submit to his will and leadership in my life.  I knew he asks me to be kind to everyone, whether I feel like it or not. 
            As it says in Deuteronomy 4:40 (NIV), “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.”
            Sometimes, God’s commands seem restrictive and no fun.  But he gives them to me all the same, and the reason he does is because I don’t know – I can’t see how everything will turn out.  So he gives me instructions in His Word so that it will go well with me. 
            And just like Joelle, I can ignore the rules too.  I can get a chair, get into the off-limits drawer, and pull out the forbidden scissors.  I can have great fun . . . for a moment.  But later, there’s going to be tears and things that cannot always be put back the way they were.

            So now when I read about God’s commands in the Bible, I remember that they’re there because I don’t know everything, and he’s just trying to keep me from cutting holes in my own blanket.