"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
Oh, how I love this verse!
The unity that is found in the hearts of God's precious children
is a beautiful and a pleasant and a good thing to behold.
It amazes me how the Holy Spirit is the great Unifier.
Romans 5:5 says,
"...the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
When the love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Ghost in you,
and the love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Ghost in me,
and He orchestrates an intersection of our paths and allows us to meet,
it is a wonderful thing.
The Holy Spirit in you recognizes the Holy Spirit in me,
and there is an instantaneous union of souls.
Even from a great distance...
even when we haven't actually "met" face-to-face.
Such is the case with me (along with many of you) and the dear blogging friend and sister in the Lord who is so graciously sharing her heart with us here today,
I know you will be incredibly blessed by reading the story of her adventurous life and walk with Jesus, and I hope you will go by and visit her wonderful blog, Pile of Smiles.
I am so grateful and blessed to bring to you
Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and Writer of Short Stories,
Cheryl: Please tell us about yourself.
Mary: I was born in the neat 50’s era; the country was at peace, emphasis was on family and God, and everybody loved Lucy and Ozzie & Harriet. I’m a middle child with an older brother and sister and a younger brother. My mom and dad were hardworking but fun parents.
Cheryl: We would love to hear about your Christian testimony. How old were you when you became a Christian? Who would you say has been your strongest spiritual mentor?
Mary: I grew up in a strict religious home. I strived to achieve perfection. I was serious about everything and never smiled. All my early photos portray a terrified little girl. I married the perfect man for me, we found the perfect starter home, we birthed the perfect child who rarely cried and smiled at everyone, yet I felt incomplete. I asked God to help me because I knew something was very wrong with me to have so many blessings and still not be happy. He answered me right away. My neighbor and I attended a women’s Bible study. I learned that religion is not enough. I needed a personal relationship with God.
Cheryl: How has your walk with Jesus affected the decisions you have made throughout life?
Mary: The changes in me were flagrant. God exchanged my timidity for His confidence. He took my guilt and filled me with His grace. He took my fear of people and gave me a healthy fear of God. I never felt empty again. I read my Bible like a starving woman filling myself with truth and learning how loved I am. I can love others the right way now. I love God’s Word! It’s a beauty secret; it transforms me every day. I cannot live without it.
Cheryl: You have travelled to some amazing places and done such interesting things. Of all of the places you have visited, which location was your favorite? Where would you live, if given the choice?
Mary: My favorite country is Costa Rica. I love the rainforests, the food, and the people there. However, the place I like the best and want to live is where I live now in the Verde Valley of Arizona! I love the openness of country and the climate.
Cheryl: Can you share with us about your job in sales? What would you consider to be three of the highest points of your career?
Mary: An opportunity came for me and my husband to work together in sales. The owner of the company hired us to manage one of his businesses because he saw our strength as a couple. This was conducive to our product line, an up-scaled manufactured home, and we attracted customers who, like ourselves, wanted to live in our part of the state in an affordable, well built home. I learned many things: 1) How to be a team player, 2) How big and beautiful the world is through traveling, and most importantly, 3) How to be salt and light in a dark world. Preachers and salesmen share a common gift: persuasion. I am thankful to have met so many people who not only needed housing but eternal life.
Cheryl: When did you begin blogging? What inspired that decision? How did you come up with its name?
Mary: In 2008, I designed Pile of Smiles with the intent of communicating with my daughter who traveled in the military. She had a blog and wanted me to have one. I think my best quality is my smile; Jesus gave it to me.
Cheryl: How has “Pile of Smiles” enriched your life?
Mary: It broadened my perspective. I am humbled to know wonderful bloggers who freely share themselves through writing. I learn so much from them and cherish each one of them!
Cheryl: Looking back over the years, will you share with us about one of your darkest times? How did your faith in God see you through and sustain you?
Mary: A few years ago, my daughter’s husband left her. It’s excruciating to see your child’s life fall apart, but we learned that the God we love and serve is a restorer. He uses everything, and I praise Him for all the hurting ones He brought into both our lives so that we can now encourage them from our dark time.
Cheryl: If you could go back and live life over, what would you change?
Mary: I would tell my younger self to lighten up and that it’s okay to fail. Quit worrying about pleasing man and focus on pleasing God.
Cheryl: When did you meet Tom? How long have you been married? What quality first drew you to him? What are some of the things the two of you enjoy doing together?
Mary: I met Tom at a family dinner party. He was on leave from the Navy. We corresponded while he served our country, and when his duty ended, he asked me to marry him. I have always been attracted to his powerful drive, risk taking with ability to make quick decisions. Today, we enjoy growing old together and sharing the simple country life. We’ll be married 45 years this summer.
Cheryl: What causes are you most passionate about? Is there a particular ministry you would like to draw our attention to?
Mary: I am most passionate about communication. In my earlier years, I joined Women’s Aglow International. My mentors taught me, trained me,and sent me. I taught women’s Bible studies, planned retreats, and spoke at women’s events. I also completed a course in Biblical counseling and earned a certificate from Extraordinary Women, American Association of Christian Counselors. I am as passionate about communication today. The Lord is full of surprises. He is the one that orchestrates my days and if I can help a hurting woman with these Biblical principles, I’m eager to be part of His plan.
Cheryl: What spiritually fulfills you the most?
Mary: I’m contemplative. I love to pray, to be with God and worship Him.
Cheryl: Concerning your life’s bucket list, what are three feats you have already accomplished, and what are three desires still remaining?
Mary: I’ve been blessed to be a mother, relocate from Chicago to the southwest, and visit Israel. I would like to take a cruise to Alaska, write a book someday, and experience a hot air balloon ride as long as they don’t fly too high. ☺
Cheryl: For those who are discouraged, what are your favorite go-to Scriptures and spiritual resources? What words of encouragement would you like to share with us?
Mary: Isaiah 41:10 is my go-to Scripture: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I always say that when Jesus is in the equation, we can’t fail! Great resources are The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere to overcome offenses. No Limits, by Tiz Huch empowers me to walk by God’s Spirit, and any Stormie Omartian book on prayer is excellent.
Cheryl: How can we pray for you?
Mary: I ask for prayer for my husband, Tom, who needs healing in his body. Thank you so much!
And, a HUGE thank you to YOU, dear Mary, for taking the time and being willing to share your beautiful heart with us here!
Your friendship and presence in my life has been and continues to be such a cherished gift from God.
May the dear Lord abundantly reward you for the blessing you are to me and to so many others!
Please add Tom to your prayer lists, dear friends.
God bless him and send the healing he needs and grant him and Mary many more happy, adventurous years together!
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us..."
according to the power that worketh in us..."
Mary Zatkalik writes short stories about everyday life on her Christian blog, Pile of Smiles.
She is married to Tom and has two grown daughters and two granddaughters.
She goes by the handle “Saleslady 371” from her working days as a saleswoman in the marketplace. She and Tom enjoy their simple retired lifestyle in the high desert country of Arizona.
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