Our Daily Bread Publishing has announced the upcoming new book, Women of the Bible Speak Out: Stories of Betrayal, Abuse, Healing, and Hope, by Marlo Schalesky. The book will be available June 2, 2020 in paperback and eBook formats wherever books are sold.
Women of the Bible Speak Out is a study of twenty women in Scripture and how God responded to them and their situations. Bible teacher, Marlo Schalesky, explores the stories of women in the Bible who were betrayed, used, abused, endangered, blamed, and shamed. Despite their circumstances, despite their labels, we see God's healing and transforming power, calling these women to wholeness, new vision, and holiness. Schalesky writes with great compassion and hope, assuring us that we can trust God as our healer.
Q: Thank you Marlo for doing this interview with us. You are the founder and president of Wonder Wood Ranch. Tell us a little about Wonder Wood?
A: Gangs and gang violence are rampant in my community, so I started Wonder Wood Ranch to to use my horses to bring hope and healing to the kids who need it most in my community (which includes gang-impacted kids, foster kids, homeless, low-income, and especially kids who have experienced severe emotional or psychological trauma). Kids ride horses through the nearly two miles of wooded trails on our property, learn about horses, an interact with the other ranch animals (donkeys, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, chinchillas ...).
It's amazing the transformation we see in kids as they groom a horse for the first time, ride for the first time, or are just out in nature being a kid. I've seen many tough gang-kids turn into happy, excited little boys on the back of a horse. I've seen oppressed kids who can't go outside due to shootings in their neighborhoods laughing and playing among the oak trees. I've seen little homeless girls fulfilling their lifelong dream of touching a horse and finding hope for the first time in a long time, and autistic kids overcoming fears to make incredible breakthroughs as their moms watch with tears in their eyes.
Wonder Wood Ranch is just a horsey outgrowth of what I write about in Women of the Bible Speak Out, as well as my other books ... The healing power of wonder, in the hands of God!
God is bigger, more wondrous, more out-of-the-box surprisingly breath-taking that we can even dream. Wonder helps us to get a glimpse of who he is a little more clearly. Wonder, whether it's through horses or through books about the #MeToo moments in the Bible, breaks down the barriers so that our souls can be healed. You can find out more about Wonder Wood Ranch at www.wonderwoodranch.org.
Q: You have also a released a book with Our Daily Bread Publishing, how did you get to work with them?
A: I've been doing this kind of book for a few years with other publishers - books that looked at characters or stories in the Bible and analyzed them to reveal the wonder of God in the most difficult situations of life. So, when Our Daily Bread approached me with their idea for doing the same to help women who have suffered from #MeToo experiences, I knew that this was the book God would have me write next. So, I prepared a proposal and the partnership began!
Following is the concept they sent me originally. You'll see why I was so drawn in and knew this book would bring hope and healing to lives of many women.
Here's the concept: The recent #MeToo movement has given voice to millions of women struggling through experiences of gender-based harassment and/or physical violence. What's been overlooked in this needed, new conversation is that the problem isn't new. In fact, the Bible is filled with women who endured undeserved abuse and hardship from men-living in societies that treated them as second-class citizens, where their lives were subject to systematic male domination legally, religiously, socially, in their own families and homes.
What if the women of Scripture could speak out in a #MeToo movement of their own?
What stories would they would tell?
What would they reveal about God, and faith, and life?
How did an oppressed and/or victimized woman encounter God in biblical times? How did these women keep faith when they're bodies were considered "spoils of war" or the properties of their husbands? When they were socially outcast simply for being infertile, or being unwed? How did these women approach God? How did God meet those girls, communicate his love and goodness to them? What did they learn about God's goodness in the midst of harshness? What can women today learn from the lives they led?
Perhaps it's time we found out.
Q: What inspired you to look at the lesser known characters of the Bible?
A: I wanted to look deeply at the stories that made me squirm - those accounts that normally I want to skim over and forget when I read my Bible. I knew that if I could find the wonder of God in Hagar's story, in the story of the concubine who died on a doorstep, with Abigail who was married to a fool, with a rejected woman with too many husbands, with a raped princess - if I could find wonder in these places where it was least likely to be -- then, this book would be the healing instrument in the hands of God that it was intended to be.
Q: Many of these characters had quite messy lives. Why do you think God didn't censor out these messy parts?
A: I'm so glad he didn't! However would we find hope if the Bible was a cleaned-up, pretty read? After all, real life is HARD. It's messy. 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.
And we see it all in the Bible. All the messy, all the pain, all the ugly, all the make us want to look away and pretend life isn't what it is. But the Bible won't let us look away. God doesn't do pretend. He asks us to look squarely in the eye of ugly, messy, painful, horrible, and still see Him. Still trust Him. See life, and see Him for what it truly is, for who He truly is.
You can't find the real God outside the real mess of life. He is a breath-taking, vivid God who meets us in the mess and reveals his wonder right there where we were sure he couldn't possibly be. Because He's not after a shallow Band-Aid faith. He's after a life-changing, shock-my-soul relationship with the living God. He is found in the mess.
Q: Out of the characters you looked at, who do you identify with the most? And why?
A: This may sound strange, but I think I most identify with Eve. I am blessed (cursed?) with a keen sense of the way things ought to be and therefore cannot help but feel deeply the brokenness of things that are not as they should be, things like the relationship between men and women, like the dominance and "ruling over" that was born when Adam and Even ate that forbidden fruit. Eve, unlike any other woman, understood how beautifully God created the world and men and women's relationship within it.
And then it was all lost, broken, shattered into the sin that continues to break women and men every day since. Christ came to heal and redeem the way things were meant to be - to gain forgiveness for our sins, yes, but also to heal and redeem our relationships. With Eve, I like to look forward to the redeeming power of Christ as I mourn the brokenness, knowing that sin and brokenness will NOT have the final say in the world or in our individual lives.
Q: How will this book help our readers out there in their daily walk?
A: Ah, I like this question! I like it because I feel that in our approach to the gender-based discrimination, hardships, abuse, and pain that women have endured we, as a body of Christ, have started to focus mostly on justice, on bringing the sins of the abusers to the light. And while I'm glad the truth is finally being exposed (it's about time!), it's not enough. Justice is not enough.
That's why this book is about more than justice; it's about healing. It's about more than healing; it's about wholeness. It's about more than wholeness; it's about holiness. Through the pages of Women of the Bible Speak Out, I pray God will redeem every bit of my #MeToo experiences, and those of my readers. I pray he will transform it all.
I truly believe that Women of the Bible Speak Out will help readers discover the wonder of God in the least likely places of life. And that wonder will help them to find the deep places of God's love in the darkness. Through the witness of the women of the Bible, through the grace and glory of God as seen through their eyes, there's a way to healing, wholeness, freedom. New life.
Q: In these anxious times brought about by the pandemic, what words of encouragement do you have for our readers?
A: One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 28:28. It says, "Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever." Sometimes this pandemic feels like a threshing that will never end! But this verse in Isaiah says that there's a purpose to the threshing - to make something good and beautiful that will bless you and bless others. This threshing has purpose, and it won't - it really won't! - go on forever.
So, find the wonder, even in these anxious times. Dare to hope, to trust, to believe. Dare to be bold as you follow God in these uncertain times. And always, always, remember that God's love for you - you! - conquers every fear.
Q: What's next for you in terms of writing?
A: I'm not sure what God will invite me to write next. I'm pondering a concept tentatively titled, The Wealth of Wonder, Finding Joy when Everything Goes Wrong, or something like that. This book would examine some of the one-time encounters with Christ in the New Testament to explore the idea of living in the wealth of God's wonder even (especially) when circumstances stink! (I'm also considering something about Job, which is my favorite book of the Bible.)
Tags : our daily bread Marlo Schalesky Marlo Schalesky interview Marlo Schalesky new book Marlo Schalesky Women of the Bible Speak Out: Stories of Betrayal Abuse Healing and Hope Women of the Bible Speak Out: Stories of Betrayal Abuse Healing and Hope