Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blooming in the Hard Places of Life

Hi Friends,

Today, I wanted to share some thoughts about blooming in the hard places of life. On my birthday a couple weeks ago, our sweet Jenny donkey, who was very old, laid down in the pasture to die. We were able to gather around her and ease her passing, saying our goodbyes. It wasn't the birthday gift I was hoping for. Instead it was hard and sad and it hurt.

Other hard things happened that day as well, and what had started as a day to celebrate became a day to mourn.

Later that day we went to one of my favorite restaurants (The Whole Enchilada, for you locals!). And there growing in the cracks of the sidewalk was this tiny, beautiful, johnny-jump-up. I love these flowers and there it was, a tiny reminder from God that beauty can still grow in hard places. And I can still blossom and bring beauty to the world around me, too, in the dry, dreary, difficult, and unyielding places of life.

I saw too that there are always cracks where God's love and care come through to nourish me. In all situations, on all days, there is hope. There is life. There is the love and wonder of God.

So, I snapped a quick picture - it's the picture you see above. May it be a reminder to you, and to me, that there is no barrier too great for the love of God to push through, so even in the most difficult situations, I can blossom with his beauty.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fighting the Real Enemy ... Together

Hi Friends, 

This week I've been thinking a lot about how we sometimes fight one another instead of focusing on the real enemies ... our spiritual adversary, fear, despair, desperation, worry, discouragement, etc. Then, I was reminded of this story from a few years ago. This story helped me to remember where to focus my energies in the battles of life. Maybe it will help you too ...

Dogs in the Chicken Coop

I knew by the intensity of the shriek that something was very wrong. My six-year-old never screamed like that. She came bursting through my office door. “Mom! Help! Come quick!”
I leapt from my chair. “What’s wrong?”
She started to sob as she spoke. “The dogs are in the chicken coop. I couldn’t get them out.”
I ran for the door. She ran after me. 
“They pushed past me when I went in. I couldn’t get them out. Hurry!”
I was hurrying. I was sprinting out the front door, up the driveway, back toward the coop.
“Moooommmmmyyyy! They’re going to kill all the chickens!” 
But I wouldn’t say that out loud. Instead, I just ran as fast as I could.
When I reached the coop, I burst inside. The hens were squawking high up in the coop while our white rooster flapped his wings at the two dogs and the red rooster lay, motionless, on the coop floor.
The two little dogs barked ferociously at the red rooster.
Oh no.Buffalo, the red rooster, was the favorite of all the kids.
I grabbed the two dogs and tossed them from the coop. They wagged their tails and scratched at the door to get back in. I ignored them.
Instead I knelt beside Buffalo, fearing the worst.
But he was still breathing. I helped him to his feet.
He shook himself and blinked at me. His entire, glorious tail had been pulled out and now I noticed feathers scattered around the coop. He had a few bare spots on his wings, but there wasn’t a bite mark on him. 
My daughter sidled up next to me. “Is he going to be all right?”
“I think so. Go get the wound spray from the barn. I’m going to spray him where his tail got pulled out.”
Jordyn brought me the spray and Buffalo held still while I tended to his bare back end. Then he fluttered up to his perch and checked on his hens. The white rooster turned around on his perch and I noticed that he, too, was missing much of his tail. I sprayed him too, checked the hens, then sat on the hay. 
The roosters stared at me. I stared back at them. “You’re war heroes, you know,” I told them. “You fought the battle so the hens could get away.”
They fluttered their wings, off balance without their large tails.
I smiled at them. Sometimes the roosters squabble with each other. Sometimes they peck the backs of the hens. But when the real enemy threatened their hens, the roosters worked together to protect the flock. 
That’s how we need to be too. In the church, in our families, in our circles of friends, we need to recognize that the enemy is not each other. There’s real enemy whose goal is our destruction, our death. 
Sometimes we’re too busy squabbling with each other to protect against the real threat. Sometimes we’re too busy pecking at those God has given us to protect. Paul says in Galatians 5:14-16 (NIV), “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
The roosters may occasionally be disgruntled with one another, but they don’t bite and devour each other. And when the real enemy sneaks into their coop, they band together to protect the hens. They know who the enemy really is.
And as I sat there, bemoaning the loss of Buffalo’s stunning tail (and most of Parmesan’s beautiful white tail), I started to see that losing a tail, even a gorgeous one like Buffalo’s, isn’t the worst thing that can happen.
God calls us to protect the weak, stand up for what’s right, lay down our lives, our tails, for others. He doesn’t call us to bicker and nitpick and peck at the very ones who we are called to protect. He doesn’t call us to bite and devour each other.
He calls us to fight the real enemy, the one who wants to destroy our souls. Together, just like Buffalo and Parmesan, we can defeat every dog who crashes our coop. Together, God gives us the strength to love others enough to sacrifice our tails so they can find a high place of safety.
Together, we can be who God created us to be, even if some feathers get pulled out in the process.