Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Marlo Schalesky

Being steadfast and pushing forward in difficult times can feel like you're climbing a mountain. You're nearing the peak, but your lungs are starved for oxygen and every muscle is screaming. You want to quit. 

Sometimes my life seems to be all about mountain climbing. How about yours?

I got to thinking that maybe it's time to hear from others who have done some of that climbing. From now through December I'll be hosting a guest blogger every Wednesday who will share insights on their own journey's up mountain sides.

Today, I'm thrilled to welcome the illustrious Marlo Schalesky.

Marlo is the award winning author of nine books, including Wrestling with Wonder, a Transformational Journey through the Life of Mary, as well as Empty Womb, Aching Heart, Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility. Her fiction includes RITA finalist Shades of Morning, the Christy Award winning Beyond the Night, and ACFW Book of the Year winner Veil of Fire. the author of nearly 1,000 articles, Marlo is also a small business owner and a graduate of Stanford University (with a B.S. in chemistry!). She has earned her Master's in Theology, with an emphasis in Biblical Studies, from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Marlo lives with her husband, six  young children, eight horses, six cats, two parakeets, one rabbit, one rat, two dogs, three chinchillas, five goldfish, and one lonely betta in a log home in Salinas, California. (Note: Critter numbers may change without notice, especially if Marlo attends yet another adoption event for rescue animals ... to her husband's chagrin.)

From Marlo:

I hold a book in my hands. It's called Wrestling with Wonder, a Transformational Journey through the Life of Mary. It released last week. I hold it and I shake my head because I know there's no logical reason that this book should be a book.
     But it is a book, and a story, a testimony, and a wonder. A thing somehow born when I was done ... when I was undone. It was born when I had just had it with writing, with life, with everything that made my days the crazy mess that they were.
     Wrestling with Wonder was born on the day when another rejection broke the proverbial camel's back, when I couldn't go on, when I crumbled like a sad little rag doll on the floor of my laundry room.
     I share this story in the book's introduction. Here's how it happened, when God saw me when I was done, and undone, and showed me the truth that kept me pressing on:

It happened like this:
     My palms press into the cold tile of the laundry room floor. Harsh, unyielding, the sound of my pain lost in the steady thumping of the dryer, the slosh of cleansing clothes, and the wicked whisper of words that for the moment, I believe.
     I am Esau. Unloved. Unchosen.
     I am Cain. Rejected. Cast away.
     What am I doing here, a broken mess on the laundry room floor? To my shame, it isn't even tragedy that has driven me to my knees. It's not my 20 years of infertility. Of discovering that despite all my prayers, all my hopes, all the long and painful procedures. I am not pregnant again. I've been there. But not today.
     It's not my six miscarriages. Not hoping beyond hope, cradling a belly that's supposed to hold new life, and losing. Again. I've been there too. But not today.
     It's not a dead father, a difficult childhood, a death, a divorce in the family. Those have brought me to my knees, made me wrestle, made me weep. But not today.
     Today, it's nothing, really. And it's everything. It's a hundred little things piled up on a day my husband is away on business, my baby just threw up, the toddler is crying, and I received another rejection. A small one, telling me I was unchosen. Unwanted. Passed by.
     I should be happy anyway. After all, life is good. It's good enough. But I'm not fine. And I'm not happy. Instead, I am on the floor, listening to the thump and slosh and crying out to a God who I'm sure doesn't care. And all the pain is back again. Of miscarriage and infertility, of death and disappointment. Of rejection, of hope lost. I feel it all again, and I am undone.
     Why? Why am I a ragged mess, a broken child? Why am I a woman weeping on the floor when I'm supposed to be writing a talk on the wonder of God's immeasurable love? When I'm supposed to know, supposed to believe, supposed to no longer doubt? But I do doubt. And wrestle. Again. Still.
     Who am I? Who is this God I say I believe, I say I trust?
     Slosh. I hear the sound. And in it, a whisper. Less than a whisper. Only a wisp. It is not easy to become clean. You must be tossed, spun. Beaten.
     Thump. It is a long process. Hot. Harsh. Unyielding.
     And I see. I understand. A bit. A glimpse. A tiny glimmer of who I am. Who God is.
     I shudder and push myself up from the hard tile. Cold on my fingertips. Chilling. God? I watch the clothes tumble and spin. I watch. And breathe.
     Then, I glance left to the changing table. The place where baby often squirms and shouts, cries, and struggles as I work to make her clean. The place where she has grown from a tiny bundle that knew me only as a blur and scent, to an almost-toddler who can hear the whisper of my voice from the other room and know that Mommy is near. 
     I step closer and run my hand over the terrycloth surface. I love her, but when she lies here, she doesn't understand. She knows she doesn't want to be here, she wants to get down and play. But I make her stay. I hold her still. I clean her. I do it because she is my loved one, my daughter, my favored child. But she doesn't understand my love.
     I don't understand His. But the glimmer widens.
     Perhaps I am not Esau. I am not Cain. Instead, I am like another woman who knelt in the darkness, waiting to be cleansed. A woman who wept and did not understand. A woman whom God called "highly favored" and yet who found herself at a cross, with all her dreams crushed, all her beliefs challenged.
     And that's when I see it. I am Mary. The favored one. Not the cute little figurine in my Precious Moments nativity set. Not the peaceful-looking statue holding the form of a baby in my childhood church. But the woman for whom God's favor looked like a stable, like rejection, like kneeling at the foot of that bloodstained cross.
     What if God's blessings don't look like good health, secure finances, and fulfilling relationships? What if His favor includes pain, poverty, sorrow, and even death? What if it's about a hundred little things that seem to go wrong? What if favor is found through shattered dreams and on cold tile floors. That was Mary's life. And it is mine.
     What if ...
     I am not Esau.
     I am not Cain.
     I am Mary.

     And that's how God broke through to me that day. That's how this book was born. That's how I pushed through being done and undone. I found truth in a laundry room. I found that God was not who I expected him to be, that he never had been, and perhaps that was okay.
     So I got up, I tried again. I walked forward one stumbling, unsteady step at a time. And I told God that I would write what he would show me about Mary's life. I would dig. I would search. I would be faithful to the journey of her life, and mine. 
     I would just be faithful. That's it.
     The rest would have to be up to him. If he wanted it to become a book, if he wanted that book to be published, if he wanted it in the hands of others who could benefit by joining the adventure of Mary's journey ... well then, that would take some kind of miracle.
     And today, I hold a book in my hands. I hold it and I shake my head because I know there's no logical reason that this book should be a book. But God has shown me that he is rarely who I expect him to be; he rarely does what I expect him to do.
     But all I have to do is be faithful, one shaky step at a time. The rest is his job.

     Maybe I like it that way.

You've never seen Mary, or her God like this!

Who is this God? Who is he who calls us to surrender and then leads us on a journey of twists and turns, ups and downs, unlike anything we could have ever expected? Who is this God who calls a young girl to birth a Savior and then watch him die on a Roman cross? Who is he who fulfills every promise and yet shatters every expectation?

Come, join Mary, Jesus' mother, on a journey of discovery. Hear the angel's call, walk the long road to Bethlehem, give birth in a barn, search for a lost son, kneel at the foot of a cross, and experience the wind of the Spirit. Come, walk with Mary, and find your own  journey in hers.

Because life rarely turns out the way we planned ...
Because we lose the wonder in the disappointments of life ...
Because being highly favored does not mean being highly pampered ... 

Because Mary shows us God -- Passionate, breath-taking, and unpredictable.

Thank you, Marlo. I can't wait to get a copy of this incredible book.

My friends, grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, October 13, 2014

Quiet Moments With God - Thankful?

I was not having a good start to my day when I sat down to read my Bible this morning. It was one of those days when my body felt like it had a giant toothache, plus life has been extra stressful recently. I'd started reading a devotion when my daughter sent me a text. Soon we were in a text conversation. We were both having a bad morning. So we got to talking about God and prayer ... and thankfulness.

By the time we said good-bye, I felt better. We'd both prayed for one another and decided that being thankful was a good way to begin our day. 

went to some scriptures about thankfulness.

Hebrews 12:26, 27 says, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." 

Wow. We get are part of God's kingdom!

I went on to Ephesians 5:20, which says, Always giving thans to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Everything? Really? 

If God is watching out for us and we have entrusted out lives to him, then we can thank him for everything. He sees the beginning and the end and always knows what's best for us all. And I don't see any scripture that says we should be thankful only when life is going exactly the way we want. Sometimes the most beautiful parts of life come wrapped in plain brown paper.

I decided to begin this morning with thanksgiving. 

My first thought was about church yesterday. It was so beautiful to be there with my family. Sarah and Kelly and their five children sat with my mother and my husband -- they took up nearly the entire front row. I am SO thankful that we were there together worshiping God.

This morning when I sat in my comfy chair in my bedroom, Bible in hand, I looked out on a green forest, spattered with the colors of autumn and with an azure blue sky as a background. I am SO thankful for God The Creator, the grandest of all artists.

And the best - time with my daughter. Time to pray for one another. I am SO thankful for her friendship and our shared faith.

As it turns out, all that thankfulness made me feel better. My pain is still present, but doesn't feel unbearable anymore, and I am looking forward to a day filled with surprises and blessings.

What are you thankful for?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, September 29, 2014

Life In 100 Words Or Less -Sweetie Pie

It's lovely to be someone's Sweetie Pie. That's an endearment my mother uses for me these days. I love being her Sweetie Pie.

Her life is imperfect, but she chooses to see its blessings. And when her aged hands cradle my face and she smiles at me I feel as if I'm bathing in the sunlight of love.

January 9th she'll be ninety, and I'm overwhelmed at the thought. I never expected to have my mother for so many years. I cry over God's gift.

How amazing to be her Sweetie Pie. Are you someone's Sweetie Pie? Whose?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Journey - Fight On

The last year has been a time of getting up off the mat and continuing to fight, pushing forward, refusing to give up, and trusting God with my choices. 

I wrote and launched the revised The Journey of Eleven Moons, created a new book, Where Eagles Soar, and started another called To Dance With Dolphins. And I did all the other things people do, plus stood up to my ongoing battle with pain.

My recent release, Where Eagles Soar, was the most difficult writing project I've ever done. There was so much to learn - memoir writing is not fiction, and fiction is what I know how to write. I worked on this project independently, which means I had to maneuver through the publishing process without a partner, though I did have kind friends who were willing to answer my endless list of questions. More than once I was ready to give up. I cried some and prayed a lot. In the end, I managed to reach the finish line ... kind of. The job continues as I do my best to introduce this incredible story and its courageous heroine to the world.

Why? I had a purpose - fulfill God's will. 

I think Lily and her story helped me find courage. She grew up in the midst of unrelenting hardship and survived because she didn't give up. She's still that way. I've watched her push through physical and emotional pain, disappointment, adversity, and fear. But her faith remains strong. I admit that sometimes I've thought she ought to be easier on herself, rest more and not push so hard. But those decisions are hers, not mine. I stand back and admire God's work in her.

So, how do we know when to keep pushing toward a goal, to dig down for more strength or to cry uncle and let it all go? How do we know the difference between God's call and our own?

I don't think we always know. But God is full of grace. 

After my accident in 1991 I slipped into what felt like a bottomless pit of depression. After months of doctor visits and physical therapy I learned I'd never be the person I'd once been and that pain would be a constant companion. It was the Lord who reached down and lifted me out of that pit. And it was his promise to walk with me that helped me move forward. I've pushed on, sometimes when resting would have been best. And I've rested when I should have worked harder. In the end, the Lord has used it all.

There have been times in my life when I just couldn't keep on keeping on. How about you? Have you had to just let go? In those times when you felt you had no more to give, were you able to dig down and find strength and courage to push forward? 

How did you do it? What was your greatest help? And how did you feel on those occasions when you knew it was time to simply rest?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured on Lena Nelson Dooley's Blog

While I'm out researching my new book project I still have friends doing their part to get the word out on my most recent release - Where Eagles Soar.

Thank you Lena Nelson Dooley! 

Lena is featuring me on her blog today. She got me to talking about things like - how I came to Christ, my most embarrassing moment (still blushing), and my new book.

Stop in, leave a comment and you'll have a chance to win a free book!

I'm going to be traipsing through San Francisco today, but I'll be checking in from time to time and responding to your questions.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Journey - Brokenhearted?

Reach out to the Brokenhearted. 

I dedicated my new book, Where Eagles Soar, to the brokenhearted. There are so many. And we need one another.

My heart and mind have been with those who suffer. It's quite possible Lily's memoir has something to do with that. I think of all the years she spent in the Alaskan wilderness and all the people who crossed her path who didn't help, but could have. However, not everyone turned their backs. There was - a neighbor who swooped in and saved her, soldiers who came alongside to offer kindness, their skills, and strong backs, even a man who was just driving by in a truck who rescued her from certain death, and a new friend in a new world who gave her a chance at a new start.

Would we have been one of these? So many in our communities suffer. Do we know them? The one's who need a ride to the grocery story or to church, the child who lives with physical or verbal abuse, the elderly who are locked away from the world who need to know they are still valuable, and the ones who are hungry or depressed. Is there something we can do to help? Are we willing to love the way Jesus asked us to love?  His love is faithful. His love is unconditional. It endures forever.

We can't do what God asks if we look away. 

How do we find the strength and courage to make a difference? I've been inspired by great books like The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon, Or Tim Hansel's You Gotta Keep On Dancing,  and Same Kind of different Just Like Me written by Denver Moore and Lynn Vincent. Lily Sanders memoir, Where Eagles Soar is one that makes me look. Read your Bible. It is our guidebook to truth and inspiration. 

So, where do we begin? How do we help? Meeting needs - pay a power bill, fill a gas tank, provide food for empty bellies, give a smile and a kind word or loving arms that hold and a shoulder to catch someone else's tears. It might mean a call to a counselor or for county assistance. And sometimes we call in law enforcement. 

We do what is needed. 

Sitting back and waiting for something to get better rarely ends in positive results.

We cannot be afraid to see with open eyes, to see the truth.

The Lord came willingly to this earth to teach us His Father's truth and then to die on our behalf. He offered us new life. He is a lifeline, but he asks us to throw that line to others. Are you offering a life line to the people around you?

Toss it, then pull that dear one to safety. You'll have a friend for life. And a cheerful heart to carry you through life's storms. 

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, September 08, 2014

World Blog Tour

Hi there.

My dear friend and writing buddy, Ann Shorey, invited me to join
the World Blog Tour. Ann and I met years ago at an OCW Summer
Writing Conference. She was a student in one of my writing classes, and it was clear she was a gifted writer. We are now part of the same critique group and Ann can always be counted on for insights that make my writing better.

ANN SHOREY has been a full-time writer for over twenty years. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series for Revell. Her latest releases include Love's Sweet Beginning, the third book in the Sisters at Heart series, and a novella in the Sincerely Yours collection, also from Revell. She's tempted to thank Peet's French roast coffee and Dove chocolates when she writes the acknowledgments for her books.
     She may be contacted through her website, or find her on Facebook at

Last week Ann posted on the blog tour. Make sure to stop in at and see what she has to say about her place in the writing world and what her writing life looks like.

As part of the tour, each writer was given four questions - the same four questinos. Here's how I answered mine.

  • What are you working on?      
     I'm in the midst of a book launch, my first non-fiction memoir. It's the most difficult project I've ever done. Memoir writing was a whole new beast for me. It took a great deal of time to master then I put in hundreds of hours of research and story writing.The woman who lived this tale grew up in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1940's and 50's. Her father taught her how to hunt, work as a hunting guide and run a trap line. He also taught her all about brutality. But she had a sweet mother and the Great White God who loved her.

     I'm also working on my first contemporary novel. - a story about lost hopes and dreams, friendships and a special journey that helps my beloved characters reclaim their dreams.

     This is a season of change and discovery for me.

  • How does your work differ from others in its genre?
     We each have our own path to follow. 

     I choose tales that confront difficult issues. People are imperfect and I strive to present the truth about real people and God's workings in their lives. The destination is not to end a tale by tying it all up in a pretty bow, but to bring it to a satisfying conclusion that motivates, causes one to think, and maybe even cry a little.

  • Why do you write what you do?    

My favorite books are about people who overcome the odds. Life isn't easy. When I write I want to entertain, but I also hope to encourage readers to not give up, to hang onto hope, to push forward and believe they are valuable ... because they are.

  • How does your writing process work?  

I need a map, so to speak. When an idea for a story drops into my mind I usually know where it will end, but how to get to its destination requires tools. I begin with research, lots of it, then I create a story arc, a detailed outline, character outlines and timelines.

Even though I have a plan when I begin writing a story my characters have been known to wander off and lead me down unexpected paths. I love it when they reveal a deeper meaning of a story than I had intended in  the beginning. Some of my best ideas come from wayward characters. I love traipsing after them.

Thanks so much for spending time with me. Now it's my turn to hand off the blog tour baton to Janice Hanna Thompson. If you haven't met her yet, you're going to love her. She is multi-talented and a lot of fun. 

Janice is an award-winning author who also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. 

She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over ninety books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children's books and more. She particularly enjoys writing light-hearted, comedic tales because she enjoys making readers laugh. In addition, she enjoys public speaking and mentoring young writers.

Janice formerly served as Vice-President of CAN (Christian Authors Network) and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). She was thrilled to be named the 2010 Barbour/Heartsong Author of the Year, with three books on the top ten list for that house. Janice is active in her local writing group, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing.

Her online course, "Becoming a Successful Frelance Writer" ( has been helpful to many who want to earn a living with their writing.

Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. Her tagline, "Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!" sums up her take on life.

She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all. You can find out more about Janice at or

Make sure to continue on to Janice's blog to find out more about this inspiring author.