Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Hi Friends,

In honor of the first day of Fall this week, here's a story from Bryan about the grace of letting the dead things fall away in your life. I hope you find it helpful and encouraging!


I remember the smell, and the crinkle, and the varying shades of brown, yellow, and orange.  I remember the crispness of the air, and the scraping of the rake against dry leaves.  I remember a Nebraska autumn and a lawn covered in fall’s leafy quilt and my little brother and I leaping with reckless abandon into piles of musky sweetness.
            I remember a time when raking up the dead and fallen things in our lives meant not sorrow, but joy.  Not regret, not fear, but hope in what was to come.
            If I close my eyes, even now, I can see the sheen of sweat on my dad’s face as he leaned over the rake.  I can hear the sound it made as he pulled it over the dead grass toward him.
            “Bryan, grab the little rake from the garage and help me.”
            “Okay, Dad.”
            I trotted to the garage, pulled down a rake that was bigger than I was and dragged it outside.  Then, I swished the tines across the leaves to gather them into a tiny pile. 
            Dad added more leaves to my pile.
            A moment later, my three-year-old brother toddled out of the house.  He clapped his hands.  “Oh, yay! Can we jump in them yet?”
            Dad shook his head.
            The pile isn’t big enough.  Why don’t you gather some up with your hands and add them to the stack.
            Justin did.  Little by little, the pile grew, with Dad adding great bundles of leaves, me adding small bundles, and Justin adding a few here and there, as much as his little hands could carry.
            Soon, the lawn was clear, the pile a gigantic heap of potential-fun, and the rakes were safely stored.
            Dad sat on the steps and rested while Justin and I squealed and ran and threw ourselves into a mountain of fall colors.  Dad smiled as we played and played and played.  We tossed leaves, we burrowed in leaves, and we laid in leaves while gazing up at the gray sky. 
            And we never, ever wished that the leaves would turn green and go back onto the trees again.  We weren’t afraid of their falling.  We didn’t feel bereft. 
            Instead, we knew that fresh, green leaves would come in the spring, while these dead ones had fallen to bring us joy . . . and a little work.
            So why, all these years later, do I grumble and moan and fear when dead things fall away in my life?  Why do I clench my hands so tightly around things that no longer bring me life? Why don’t I let them fall and bring me a new kind of joy?
            2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
            When I hear this verse, I usually think about it as if it only means that sometime, way in my past, when I accepted Jesus I became a new creation in Christ.  But as I think of the falling leaves of autumn, I wonder if it doesn’t also mean that Christ continues to make me new, renew me . . . and cause the old, dead things to fall away like autumn leaves.
            And when they do, when the leaves scatter on the dry ground, I don’t need to fret about what I no longer have, what I no longer am.  Instead, I can look forward to new, green leaves in the springtime, and for now, find joy in the crinkly, brown piles in my life. 
            Now, as I gather dried leaves for my own kids, I think about those days long ago when my dad did most of the raking, the piling, the working.  I helped.  My little brother helped.  But I know now that dad did the real work.  And I remind myself that when dead things fall away in my life, it’s my heavenly father who is doing most of the work then too.  I help.  Others may help.  But it is God who is clearing away the crusty brownness of old habits, dead plans, and things that are no longer vital, living. 
            So, when dead things fall away, I want to stop worrying and instead revel in thankfulness for God’s work in my life.  I want to lay on the leaves in a heap, look up, and know that spring is coming.  I want to trust God enough to rake beside him and rejoice when the work is done.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

9-11, Faith, and Life's Toppling Towers

Hi Friends,

Today, I think back to where I was on September 11 fourteen years ago, I think of crashing airplanes and toppling towers, I remember the ache of ash and hopes buried in rubble.

It was a day that changed the world. 

And it reminds me of other days, days that changed MY world, or days that changed the world of those close to me. 

Planes still crash into the towers of our lives. There is still aches in ash and buried hope.  There are still moments when all we can do is weep.

But what do we do with those moments? How do we look on them with faith? How do we follow God in a broken world, with our broken lives?

This week, Jayden taught me something about that. With his new T1D diagnosis, there’s been toppling towers and rubbled days (and nights). 

But I’ve seen something in that little boy that shows me what faith really is. 

It happened like this:

Jayden will soon be getting a device to help measure his glucose in a more continuous way. He’ll have to wear the device all the time, inserting it fresh into his skin at least once a week. He’ll have to carry a receiver and ... here’s the good news ... an iPhone so that the data can be sent to up to 5 other phones. I’ll be able to monitor him from a distance! But he’s going to have to wear the pokey device. 

He didn’t want to wear the pokey device.  That is, until we told him he could have his very own iPhone if he agreed to wear the device! That’s all it took to convince him. However, his 10-year-old sister was not so thrilled. She’s been wanting a phone for years. We keep saying no. So, in her frustration, she blurts out, “I wish I had diabetes!”

And then Jayden did an amazing thing.  He didn’t tell her “No you don’t!” or complain about the difficulties of diabetes. He didn’t get mad. He didn’t fuss.  He just looked at her with a bland “don’t be dumb” look and said:  "God gives you diabetes. You don't just give it to yourself!" 

I stopped in my tracks. I might have said, “God didn’t give you diabetes.” But I didn’t say that. I couldn’t. Because Jayden wasn’t blaming God for his diabetes. Instead he was submitting himself to the sovereignty of God is his life. 

God could have prevented his diabetes. God did not. And Jayden accepted that fact without anger or blaming or trying to excuse God in any way. He chose to walk in faith, trusting God in whatever came his way.

And I stood stunned because a little boy said “God gives you diabetes” not in a I'm-mad-at-God way, but in a You-accept-what-God-gives-you sort of way. He's six years old and he was teaching his sister that you take what God gives you in life and you don't whine about it.

I need that kind of faith.

Perhaps it’s best summed up by something a dear friend said to me this week. She’s in the midst of fighting breast cancer and just had her first surgery to remove lumps. She said: 

"I think I'm going through some cycles of grief, as in denial right now, feeling like this can't be happening to me.  Yet, why not?  Why not me?  All of us have struggles...  It's what's been given to us in a fallen world, our vehicles for glorifying God and becoming more like Christ." 

Our toppling towers are what’s given us in a fallen world. They are our vehicles for glorifying Christ. This is what Faith looks like on this anniversary of 9-11.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

When Getting What You Want Doesn't Get You What You Want

Hi Friends,

I'm working on the third chapter of my new book, WAITING FOR WONDER, a Transformational Journey through the Life of Sarah (supposed to come out with Abingdon Press in the fall of 2016). This week I'm thinking about how sometimes we "arrive," or we get what we had been praying for, or we finally get "there," and it turns out to be not everything we'd hoped. It isn't the end-all, be-all. Life is still hard, we still struggle, and what we thought would be a place of settling into a better life turns out to just be the beginning of other issues we must face and deal with.

Ever been there? If so, share! I'm hoping this chapter will be a help and encouragement to all of us who find ourselves in this place.

Here's what I have so far for the chapter introduction:

How many times? How many times, Lord, have I thought if only I could get “there,” then all would be well? How many times have I set my hopes on something and believed that all my problems would be solved if only I could achieve that one thing. How many times have I prayed for the thing that I knew would save me, but it has fallen short?
Sometimes arriving isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 
Even the promised land isn’t the answer to all our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our needs. I forget that sometimes. But Sarai reminds me. 
She reminds me to be careful where I place my hope, be careful of where I believe I’ll find my answers. 

She reminds me that the promised land is a poor substitute for the God of Promise.

And here's the thought I'm mulling over for Sarai and for me:
When God gives a promise, the Promise is not a place, it's a Person. It's God Himself.

What do you think? Have you experienced this?