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If Tomorrow Never Comes

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Overview

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams–marriage, children, a house by the sea…everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and ...

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If Tomorrow Never Comes

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Overview

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams–marriage, children, a house by the sea…everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God’s plan.

Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it’s too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand? The past whispers to the present.  And the future shivers.  What if tomorrow never comes?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
If Tomorrow Never Comes is a touching story of hope through surrender. Marlo Schalesky weaves a poignant story with a unique twist, touching the heart of those who struggle with unfulfilled dreams, reminding us things are not always as they seem.”
–Rachel Hauck, bestselling, award winning author of Sweet Caroline and Love Starts With Elle

If Tomorrow Never Comes is another beautiful, outside-the-box story from Marlo Schalesky. At times painful and joyful, it was inspiring to see God work in the lives of two people who are so in love and yet so broken by infertility and the shadows of the past. Highly recommended!”
–Tamara Leigh, author of Faking Grace and Splitting Harriet

“Marlo Schalesly is one of my favorite authors. Within just a few pages of If Tomorrow Never Comes I was drawn into a world that is hauntingly beautiful, and yet real-life all the same. I was swept away in this enchanting story about a mysterious locket, and as with all Schalesky’s books, I wasn’t disappointed. What a heart-filled, powerful, and well-told story!”
–Tricia Goyer, author of ACFW Book of the Year winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights

If Tomorrow Never Comes is a beautiful and bittersweet story of dreams crushed, but not destroyed. Of first love dying, but not yet dead. And of a merciful God who holds all our fates in his hands. Marlo Schalesky has woven a magical tale you'll have to read twice: once quickly because you have to know what happens next, and once slowly so you can savor the evocative poetry of her writing.”
–Rick Acker, author of Blood Brothers and Dead Man's Rule

“Kinna’s mom had always led her to believe that fulfillment in womanhood is achieved most fully through motherhood. But when Kinna’s can-do determination collides with the devastating desperation of infertility, her heart and life feel as barren as her womb. Through surprising plot twists reminiscent of Angela Hunt’s style, Marlo Schalesky keeps readers guessing as she offers a challenging new perspective on God’s possibilities.”
–Jennifer Saake, author of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss

“This story gripped my heart from the first page right through to the triumphant conclusion and beyond. Marlo Schalesky has penned a masterful tale about wrestling with both God and shadows from the past, with glimpses of the miraculous woven through. You won’t be able to put this one down!”
–Janelle Clare Schneider, author

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601420244
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 3.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Marlo Schalesky is the author of several books, including Beyond the Night and Empty Womb, Aching Heart. A graduate of Stanford University, Marlo also has a masters of theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. Married over twenty years, she lives with her husband, Bryan, and their five children in California.
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Read an Excerpt

Only the fog is real. Only the sand. Only the crashing of the sea upon the restless shore. The rest is a dream. It has to be. I say it again and again until I believe it, because I cannot be here. Not now. Not with mist dusting my eyelashes, sand tickling my toes, salt bitter on my lips. Not when the whole world has narrowed to a strip of beach, a puff of fog, and a single gull crying in an invisible sky.

This is crazy. Impossible. And I'm too old for crazy. I won't be some loony old woman with a house full of cats. I refuse to be.

Besides, I prefer dogs.

I touch my neck, and my breath stops. The chain is gone. My locket.

My mothers voice teases me. “Not impossible, hon. Improbable. Because with God all things are possible.” Her words, spoken in that ancient, quavering tone, hide a laugh turned wheezy with age. I hear her again. “Someday youll lose that locket, Thea Jean. You just wait.” Her grin turns the sides of her eyes into folds of old parchment. “And thats when the adventure will really begin.”

But I don't want any adventure. All I want is a comfortable chair, a good book, the sounds of my grandchildren playing tag under the California sun, and my boxer at my feet.

I want to go home.

I glance out over the ripples of Monterey Bay. White-capped waves. Dark water. And then I know. Thats what I need to wake me up, get me home. I need a cold slap in the face. Something to shake me from this crazy-old-cat-lady delusion.

I stride forward until the surf kisses my feet, the waves swirl around my ankles, knees, waist, arms. Cold. Icy. Welcome.

The water engulfs me. And suddenly it doesn't feel like a dream.

-
Fog closed in around Kinna Henley as she fell to her knees and pawed in the sand. The grains bit into her hands, filled her fingernails like black soot. And still she dug. Deep into the oozing wetness. Deep enough to bury her sin. Or at least the evidence of it.

No, not sin. She wouldn’t call it that. Desperation, maybe. Determination. But not sin. God wouldn’t bless that, and He had to bless today. He just had to. She was betting everything on it.

Kinna glanced over her shoulder. Somewhere, a gull cried. Once. Only once. Somewhere, water broke along rocks and sand. Somewhere, the sun rose over the horizon.

But not here.

Here, there was nothing but the fog and the shore and the sand beneath her fingers. Alone.

Barren.

She hated that word.

With a deep breath, Kinna reached into the pocket of her nurse’s smock and pulled out six empty prescription vials that didn’t bear her name. She held them in her palm. Minute bits of liquid shimmered in the bottoms, reflecting only gray, all that was left of the medication that held her hope, flowed through her veins, and ended in her ovaries. Expensive medication she couldn’t afford on her own. But she needed it. She’d tried too long, prayed too long, believed too long…for nothing.

This medication, this Perganol, would change all that. It had to.

She closed her fist.

What’s done is done. I had to take it, God. Don’t You see? I had to.

She turned her hand over, opened it, and dropped the vials into the hole. Then she covered them and pushed a fat, heavy rock over the top.

Gone. Buried.

She wouldn’t think of how those vials had been accidentally sent to the hospital. Of how they were supposed to be returned. Of how she said they had been. Or how she slipped them into the pocket of her smock instead. She’d told herself it didn’t matter, no one would know, no one would care, no one would be hurt. She made herself believe this was the only way. And it was. Nothing else had worked. Not charting her temperature, not a million tests, not herbal remedies, not two failed attempts at adoption. Not even prayer.

A dozen long years of it all had taught her that. God promised happily ever after, but so far, all she’d gotten was month after month of disappointment, pain, and the fear that nothing may ever change.

But now, change would come. The medication was gone, the vials hidden, her ovaries full to bursting.

Finally.

A sound came. A shout, maybe. Kinna leapt up and turned, but no one was there. No one walking down the beach. No one swimming in the surf. No one making sandcastles along the shore.

She wouldn’t think of that now. She would not remember the first time she had knelt in this sand, dug in it, made castles at the edge of the water. She wouldn’t remember the boy who made her believe fairy tales could come true. Or what happened between them after that.

That was gone. Past. All that remained was the promise that had flowed out of those stolen vials and into her blood. That was all that mattered.

Today, everything would change.

Kinna picked up her bag and strode down the silent beach, her elbows bent, her arms swinging. Fast,determined. Five minutes up, five minutes back, turn and go again. Twice more, and she’d check exercise off her list for the day. Once, she exercised for fun. Now, it was a means to an end, a way to prepare her body, to convince herself that she was doing everything she could, everything she should. That’s what life had become.

She sighed and quickened her pace. She missed the old Kinna, the one who laughed easily, who teased, who jogged along the beach just to feel the breeze in her hair and to smell the salty scent of the sea. The Kinna who still believed in fairy tales.

But soon she would believe again. She would laugh, tease, but not jog. Not for nine months, anyway. Because now her dreams would come true and the pain would end. God would finally do for her what she’d asked, begged, and pleaded for so many years.

Once, she’d been so sure that God would answer. So sure of her faith. God would not disappoint her, would not let her down. But the years eroded that faith, washing it away, bit by bit, as surely as the sea washed out the sand on the shore.

Until today.

Now she had faith again. She would stop being that woman filled with pain and doubt. She would be filled with faith…and more.

Right, God? She slowed. Doctor’s orders. Or at least, nurse’s orders.

God didn’t answer.

But it didn’t matter. She’d waited long enough. Tried, prayed, hoped. And finally, she’d happened upon those vials as if they were meant for her. As though it didn’t matter if she just slipped them into her pocket. A simple act. Easy. So why did she still have to bury them in the sand?

She knew the signs of guilt. Growing up as a pastor’s daughter taught her that. She knew a lot about guilt.

I did what I had to do. That’s all. I can’t live like this anymore. It’s got to change.

She’d done what she never would have believed. Kinna Henley had become a thief.

She gripped her bag until it creased in her hand, pressing into the flesh of her fingers. Once, she’d wept and stormed, screamed and threatened. She’d sobbed into too many pillows, curled in too many corners, slammed too many doors.

Until now.

A chill slipped under her nurse’s smock and twirled around the short hairs near her neck. It was so cold here, so lonely. Not even the call of a gull or the chatter of a sea lion kept her company. Nothing but endless waves and the eerie silence of the mist.

And God, just as silent.

This time, God, don’t let me down. Please… Not again.

This time she’d made plans, acted on them. This time, she’d sold her soul. No, it’s not that bad. It’s not!

What if…? What if I fail again?

But it wouldn’t come to that. It couldn’t.

God would listen. God would relent.

Kinna didn’t want fame or fortune, shoes, clothes, or the latest Prada handbag. She didn’t want a new car, a new house, or even a new job. All she wanted was a child, a baby of her own. What she’d always wanted, as long as she could remember. A husband, a baby, and happily ever after.

Didn’t God say that to His faithful? Didn’t He say that all she had to do was pray? How could it be too much to ask for only what every other woman in the world seemed to have? Just a baby. To be a mother. Nothing more. It seemed so simple, so normal, so impossible.

This was her last chance. At least that’s what the doctor said. “One more cycle, Kinna.” Cycles, not months. Everything was measured in cycles now. “And then you need to consider in vitro fertilization.”

But she couldn’t afford IVF. She couldn’t even afford Perganol. The credit cards were maxed, the house mortgaged and mortgaged again. And Jimmy had said no more debt.

She closed her eyes. She’d done everything right. Perfect. She’d taken her prenatal vitamins, eaten her vegetables, not allowed a drop of caffeine to touch her lips, walked each afternoon. She’d charted her basal body temperature for a week, logged the dates, bought not one but two ovulation predictor kits with seven sticks each. She’d tested every day, twice a day, from day eleven to day fifteen. And this day, the time was finally right—the perfect time to conceive.

And, of course, there were the vials.

Around her, the fog swirled and thickened. The ocean murmured words of doubt. She wouldn’t listen to that. Not anymore.

She kicked a bit of sand at her feet. A string of dried kelp slid between her toes and sandals. She flicked it away, then reached into her bag and took out the ovulation predictor stick she’d put there. Two lines, both thick, equal. She squeezed it in her hand and then pulled a picture from her bag, a funny photo of a laughing baby with tulips scattered around her. The perfect baby.

Her thumb brushed the baby’s face. She blinked.

Stop it, Kinna. God wouldn’t let you f ind that picture if He didn’t intend to answer your prayers. She glanced up. Don’t forget, God. I have faith.

Kinna reached the end of the beach and turned. Then she saw a glimmer in the sand. Silver buried in the tan-and-white blanket of a million tiny grains. She stooped and picked up the long chain, the dull necklace. She turned it over. An oval locket, old and worn. She grimaced. She had one just like it, except hers was new. A gift from Jimmy, who claimed it was an original. How like him to get a cheap knockoff and pretend it was something more.

She ran her finger over the intricate double-tulip design on the locket’s surface. She opened it, and a bit of sand fell onto her fingers. She brushed it away. Inside were two photos—an old man and an old woman, their faces wrinkled but still unfaded by time, clear enough that she could see their smiles, could tell they were happy.

Happy faces, content faces, his half hidden behind thick glasses, hers yellowed by the years. Faces that made her ache. Once, she thought she would look happy like that when she grew old. She and Jimmy. And they would. Just as soon as God answered her prayers.

Kinna closed the locket, dropped it into her bag, and listened as the chain rattled against the ovulation stick. And then someone screamed.

Someone get me a cat, because I think I really have lost my mind. What was I thinking? This isn't a dream. The water is real. Too real. God is making fun of me, sending me here like this.

But it's not His fault I'm in these waves. I shouldn't blame Him. I've done this stupid thing. Batty old lady. That much, at least, seems true. I'd laugh, except my mouth would fill with salt water. It claws at me with freezing fingers Reaches, grabs, forces my head under its black surface. And then I feel the first tendrils of fear. Of real, honest-to-goodness terror.

What have I done?

I fight and scream. My arms flail, my hands wave in air too gray, too heavy. The waves pull at me, drag me farther from the shore. My eyes go blind in the salty surf.

One wave. Another. I shout again.

My throat burns and I can no longer scream. Stupid. Crazy. Nuts.

The water grows colder. Arms of ice, embracing, drawing me down. Pulling me to the land of many cats.
Maybe I should have known. Should have seen the truth the moment I knew the locket was gone. Maybe. . .

But this is crazy.

This is real.
This. . .

What happens if you die in your dreams?
-


Kinna whirled toward the sound of the scream.

It came again, a shriek like a blade across her nerves. She faced the water. The sound echoed off the waves.
A cry. A shout. A scream for help.

She heard frantic splashing, a final, desperate cry. She threw her bag onto the sand and raced to the edge of the sea.

There! She could see the figure now, a black shadow on the water’s surface.

A wave crested and the figure vanished. No other sound came. Kinna kicked off her shoes and dove into the water. Cold surrounded her. Waves plunged against her, stinging her eyes, lifting her higher, crashing her down.

For an instant she glimpsed the figure in the water. A woman, older than Kinna, her arms thrashing, her head dipping beneath the waves. Sounds came again. Words and shouts that she could no longer distinguish.

The woman went under.

Kinna put her head down and swam. Hard. Fast. Fighting against the surf and current. Water silenced any further sounds, filled her ears with only the roar of the tide. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Water in her mouth. Salt and bitterness. She paused, glanced up. She couldn’t see the woman.

Oh no. God, help…

A flash. An arm. Was that…? Then, nothing.

She swam toward the spot. Hoping, praying. Though God had never answered her before, still she prayed, believing, driving herself into the undulating waves.

And then she was there. A froth of white on the surface of the sea. Floundering limbs. Gulping mouth. A final stroke and she was beside the woman, then behind her.

“It’s okay. I’ve got—” A wave silenced her words, drowning them in a salty onslaught.

The woman thrashed. Her arm slammed against Kinna’s temple. The world turned black, then gray and green again. Kinna blinked, gasped for air.

The woman twisted and reached out, shouting words Kinna couldn’t hear, couldn’t understand. She started to climb, thin feet kicking into Kinna’s legs. Weak hands, suddenly strong, shoved Kinna’s shoulders deeper into the roiling waves.

Water closed over Kinna’s head. She shoved the woman away, fought back to the surface. Air stung her lungs, water blinded her eyes.

The woman grabbed for her, but this time, Kinna was ready. She grasped the woman beneath the arms, turning her by force. A foot impacted her stomach. A hand scratched her face.

She shouted in the woman’s ear. “Relax! I’ve got you.”

The woman shuddered.

“Don’t fight me.”

Stiff arms stopped clawing. Kicking legs slowed.

“That’s it. Stay loose now.”

Kinna secured her grip, turned on her side, and swam one-armed toward the shore. After six strokes the woman grew limp.

“Stay with me.”

The woman’s breath rasped in Kinna’s ear. She would be all right. They would make it safely to the shore.

A wave broke over them and still she swam, the woman pliable but breathing. A gasp. A cough. The waves came quicker, pushing them. Short, choppy, breaking in rolls of froth.

Then Kinna’s toes found the bottom. She fought against the last of the surf, the final stretch of the sea. Her feet pressed into soggy sand, her body rose from the water. And then they were free.

Kinna dragged the woman onto the beach and fell to her knees beside her. She spat out a mouthful of water, then leaned, trembling, over the woman’s pale face.

The woman’s eyes fluttered open and fixed on Kinna. “You?” A single word, barely spoken. Then her eyes fell closed.

“No!” Kinna grabbed the woman’s shoulders, pulling her upright and shaking her. The woman’s eyes opened again, staring. Her mouth moved, muttering words Kinna could not hear.

She leaned closer.

“The faces. Not crazy. Not.” The words were slurred. “Not a dream.” The woman’s head tilted, her breath ragged and unsure.

“Shhh. We’ll get you to a doctor. You’ll be all right.”

A hand gripped Kinna’s arm. The woman’s fingers tightened and pulled her closer. Her mouth moved again, and this time, the words were clear.

“You’re Kinna Henley.”

Kinna shivered. “How do you know me?”

The woman gave another shuddering breath, then fell back.

And breathed no more.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Choices - We always have a Choice

    This was one unforgettable book filled with so many of God's truths brought to life. You can sense this story was birthed from the depths of the author's heart and pain. She too struggled with what Kinna and Jimmy Henley agonized over. One lesson learned by all, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8)

    Marlo's characters ask the tough questions, "If God asked you to give up your dreams for Him, would you? What are you willing to give up, suffer or sacrifice to do God's will? Are you willing to follow His plan for your life and not your own?" These are just some of the great questions that Marlo brings up in this powerful, moving, and gut-wrenchingly honest story of two people chasing their dreams not thinking of what it cost in the end. These are people looking for that "happily ever after" here on earth, that God never promised us.

    Which brings up another question, "Can we be happy in this life?" Answer, yes, if we CHOSE TO BE!! We always have a choice. It's a choice of OUR will every time!

    "Love wasn't just a feeling. It wasn't a kiss on a doorstep or a dance under the streetlights. It was a life lived together, facing the good and the bad. It was laying down your life for another. It was sacrifice. It was taking a risk. It meant doing right even when it was hard."

    Marlo has walked in the shoes of her characters. She tells it like it is and doesn't hold back sharing the pain or the joys discovered in life's journey. Marlo reveals scripture in a unique way and exposes a few lies her characters believe as well. Scripture says the truth will set you "free." The author has her main characters struggle to do the right thing against some incredible odds. You will definitely want to read this story. It's one you will find yourself thinking about and later returning to it to review treasures found. Wow! You will just have to experience it for yourself. I highly recommend it!

    Book Club Servant Leader
    www.psalm516.blogspot.com

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  • Posted April 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Perfect Book Club Book

    If you like books with strong characters, this is one Christian fiction you cannot miss reading. Kenna and Jimmy are beautifully written. They think like I have thought. They argue like my husband and I have argued. Marriage experts say that communication is all important, and yet spouses continually guess at the other's motivations rather than ask about it. Communication may be Kenna and Jimmy's weak point. Characters like these are not found in most books.

    On the other hand, if you prefer a plot-driven novel, here's your book! Schalesky writes a tapestry of a tale with clever interweaving of childhood memories. At one point, I actually said aloud, "Ahhh" as I figured out one twist. This plot moves along smoothly, with plenty of surprises. There's a locket, something about tulips, and games of "Let's Pretend" to figure out.

    Thea's thoughts are written in first-person, while the other characters are written in third-person narrative. This helps separate her from the crowd. She's a confusing, crazy old lady who plays with everyone's minds, including the reader's. Because of her, the story seems a bit confusing at first, but hang on because like a roller coaster, it's about to take off!

    A Reader's Guide is included. This is a perfect book club book because once finished, you will want to have someone around to discuss it.

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    With God all things are possible.

    If Tomorrow Never Comes
    Marlo Schalesky
    Multnomah, 2009
    ISBN: 9781601420244
    Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 03/09
    5 stars
    With God all things are possible.
    Kinna and Jimmy were childhood sweethearts, deeply in love with dreams of their future together. Kinna's desperation for a child began to eat away at their marriage. Having a child became the most important thing in her life. Kinna will do anything, including theft, if it will help her get pregnant. Both Kinna and Jimmy consider themselves a failure. Jimmy is deeply depressed. Their marriage is in jeopardy. God is not finished with them, yet.
    Kinna is a character that not everyone will understand. However, women that have had fertility issues will relate to her. Marlo Schalesky sheds light on the emotions and the psychological factors in infertily. If Tomorrow Never Comes is beautifully written. Marlo Schalesky is a talented author. Fans of Christian fiction will not want to miss If Tomorrow Never Comes.

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  • Posted February 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a strong metaphoric inspirational

    They met as kids and though she came from a stable house headed by a pastor and him from a home in which his mother died early and his father went to prison, they fell in love. Kinna Hollis and Jimmy Henley married and planned to raise a family. She became a nurse and he went into construction work. For the next dozen years they tried to have children, but she was infertile though they tried almost everything.

    Their love teeters on the abyss as Kinna has become obsessed and Jimmy feels like a failure. She steals fertility medicine from the hospital she works in as a nurse. However, when he failed to run the machinery to rescue an injured worker, he is fired; when the hospital catches her theft she is fired. Jimmy is depressed when he returns home, but all Kinna wants is his sperm. He walks out on her. Stunned she rescues an elderly woman Thea from the nearby sea and soon that senior meets Jimmy and gives him a dog. As the despair deepens, Thea keeps showing up until an accident at the construction site forces Jimmy and Kinna to look at their relationship before the sea takes back their sand castle dreams.

    The story line starts a bit slow as readers struggle to understand the lead couple; Kinna is initially hard to like with her obsessive impulsive behavior and Jimmy has withdrawn fearing failure like his dad. Once Thea enters the plot and keeps showing up with locket in hand at odd moments, the plot takes off as a deep inspirational character study as Kinna learns that sometimes dreams and goals must be dropped. With a strange whimsical twist on the merged themes of God works in mysterious ways but is there for everyone making everything even the impossible possible, Marlo Schalesky provides a strong metaphoric inspirational.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted March 14, 2011

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    Posted March 2, 2012

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