Happy Friday, dear ones! Today, I am honored to welcome Marlo Schalesky to the blog to chat about her new book, Reaching for Wonder!
Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of eleven books, including her latest nonfiction REACHING FOR WONDER, Encountering Christ When Life Hurts, which explores fourteen of the one-time encounters with Christ in the New Testament. Marlo has also had over1,000 articles published in various magazines, has appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, including Focus on the Family, 100 Huntley Street, Moody Midday, and The Harvest Show, has had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living.
Marlo holds a Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary (yes, she reads the New Testament in Greek!) and has been a RITA finalist, Christy Award winner, and ACFW Book of the Year winner, among other awards. She lives in on the central coast of California with her husband and six children and a menagerie of animals at Wonder Wood Ranch, the charity she founded to bring hope through horses to a hurting community.
Sometimes life hurts. Sometimes you’ve struggled, and stumbled, until it even hurts to hope. Perhaps you’ve faced a spiritual crisis of disappointment, doubt, or a feeling of distance from God due to unanswered prayers and painful circumstances. But what does it mean to encounter Christ in those times? What does he say to us when we have nothing left to say? How do we see him when pain has silenced our prayers and blinded our souls?
In Reaching for Wonder, Marlo Schalesky explores fifteen of the New Testament’s one-time encounters with Christ to illuminate the surprising character of a God who transforms our pain into wonder.
Because sometimes life isn’t at all as we want it to be…
Because we lose the wonder in the hardships of life …
Because encountering Christ changes everything…
Like those who have gone before, following God’s call isn’t about easy faith, a life of effortlessness, or every prayer answered when and how we want. Instead, it’s about encountering God so deeply, so significantly, that everything about your circumstances, about your life, about you, changes because of God.
In these New Testament stories you’ll find guidance to a deeper understanding of God’s plan for you, a more vibrant faith, and a fuller trust in God. Plus you’ll find hope in knowing that your life may not be as you had envisioned it, but is one in which God is doing a mighty work.
Hi Marlo! Welcome to the blog!
Marlo: Oranges. They help with kidney stones.
Carrie: Indeed they do! And isn’t it sad that now we are old enough to have to think of these things? lol
Marlo: Winter. Here in Salinas, CA we have a better shot at sunny weather in winter. (Ever heard of “June gloom”? I have!)
Carrie: I have ‘June gloom’ every summer as soon as it gets hot lol
Marlo: Cats. I have a ranch, and cats earn their keep.
Carrie: True… but dogs are cuddly 🙂
Marlo: Tea. More variety.
Carrie: I have always wanted to like hot tea (or iced, for that matter) because it seems very bookish, but alas…
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Marlo: There’s a guy on X-Men who can be many places at once. That’s the superpower I’d have. And one of me would always be reading!
Carrie: oh i love that! Yes!
Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Marlo: Young adult fantasy section. Right now, I’m into clean fairy tale retellings. So much fun! I was a big fantasy reader when I was a kid – Narnia, Dragonriders of Pern, Lord of the Rings, all the fairy tales I could get my hands on – and I carry that love to this day. Maybe that’s why I write about the wonder of God. Those early ventures to Narnia, Pern, Middle Earth, showed me the breath-taking beauty of God in ways I couldn’t fully grasp at the time, but I could feel. I still feel it when I read good young adult fantasy. I experience God, who’s bigger and more wondrous than I’ve dared to dream.
Carrie: “I experience God, who’s bigger and more wondrous than I’ve dared to dream.” – absolutely, this! I love the power of story ♥
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Marlo: The coffee shop, because no one needs anything from me at the coffee shop. There’s no, “Mom! Mom! Mom! I can’t find my shoe!” or “He hit me!” or the ding of the dryer or the ring of the house phone. At the coffee shop, none of the noise is for me. Only the nice white mocha is for me. Just as it should be…
Q: Why write about reaching for wonder? Why is that theme important to you?
Marlo: When I first started to really grapple with this idea of reaching for wonder when life is at its worst, my family was in the midst of some of the most difficult and painful times we’ve ever had to face. We were going through betrayal, from both inside and outside of the family. We were being threatened by a stalker, so we were dealing with the difficult and scary process of getting and enforcing a restraining order. Our business also took a turn for the worse. The stress was causing health problems on top of marital conflicts, and everything else. Life hurt.
I had discovered when we had faced infertility and miscarriage in the past, that the idea of “just have faith” and “God won’t give you more than you can bear” is, well, a bunch of hooey.
Life is HARD. Heartbreaking, soul-choking things happen to us. This life is not a walk in the park with daisies. It’s a journey that has peaks and beautiful vistas, but it also has dark valleys where we can barely remember what the sun looks like. Sometimes it seems as if those valleys will never end. This life is a battle for our souls.
In my latest valleys, I started looking more carefully and deeply at the Jesus we see in the New Testament. I looked at how he interacts with those who are facing things that were more than they could bear. I found the real Jesus is not a “just have faith and it will be okay” type of God. He is a breath-taking, vivid God who meets us in the times of trouble and encounters us in ways I didn’t expect. In ways that shake me from my “just have faith” mentality. He’s not after a shallow Band-Aid faith. He’s after a life-changing, shock-my-soul relationship with the living God. And that matters. It matters to me.
To me, that changes everything.
Carrie: AMEN! This has been one of those heartbreaking, soul-choking years for me and yet Jesus has met me here in the ‘hurt’ over and over.
Q: What is something that surprised you the most while researching Reaching for Wonder?
Marlo: The miracle stories in the New Testament are not miracle stories at all. In fact, the miracles, the healings, even the resurrections, are written almost as an afterthought to the heart of the story. It’s the encounter with Christ, the internal transformation that comes from that encounter, that is front and center in these stories. It is this unexpected and out-of-the-box Messiah who takes center-stage. The changes of circumstance, the healings, are told in a “oh, by the way, the person was healed” sort of manner. And that changes everything. When I come to God when life hurts, when I’m praying and hoping that He will just “fix it,” God’s interest isn’t focused on my circumstances (like mine is), rather, it’s on me. His goal is that I encounter him face-to-face and see him for who he really is.
Carrie: “It’s the encounter with Christ, the internal transformation that comes from that encounter, that is front and center in these stories.” – yes!!! So true.
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Reaching for Wonder?
Marlo: I want readers to have encountered Christ in the their own difficulties. I want them to have discovered him a new, deeper, richer, more vibrant and more wonder-filled way … even if their circumstances haven’t changed. I want them to take away a new and vivid Hope.
Carrie: This sounds like a book i need to go buy right now! ♥
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Marlo: I’m currently starting a follow-up book to Reaching for Wonder, tentatively titled, The Wealth of Wonder: Doing Right When Everything is Wrong. Similarly to Reaching for Wonder, this book will examine other one-time encounters with Christ in the New Testament, but here I’m wanting to explore the idea that if we live in the riches of grace that Christ offers, we can do the right thing even when wrong is going on all around us. I really want to explore this idea of living in the wealth of God’s wonder even (especially) when circumstances stink!
Carrie: Another one I must read!
Marlo Schalesky is giving away a print copy of Reaching for Wonder to one of my readers (US only). Giveaway will run from May 25-June 1, 2018. This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What is most meaningful to you about Marlo’s interview and/or her new book?