"For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy."
If you are even remotely familiar with the world of Christian bloggers,
you have almost definitely read at least one post or seen at least one Pinterest pin
of a devotional written by the dear lady I am interviewing today.
I can't remember when or how I first came across her blog,
but I will be forever grateful to the dear Lord that He allowed our paths to cross.
She has been a precious blessing to me, not only through her blog,
but even more so through our personal email conversations.
I know you are going to enjoy getting to know the woman behind 1-Minute Bible Love Notes.
Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Author of 1-Minute Bible Love Notes,
Former Homeschooler, Former Army Wife, Former Missionary to Budapest, Hungary,
Gail: I think the most unique aspect of my life is how nomadic it's been. I'll be 65 in July and I've lived in over 40 homes all over the U.S. plus 8 years in Europe (Germany and Hungary). I might understand better than most folks what it means to be an "alien and stranger" here on earth. (To read Gail's post called "Aliens", click here.)
I've been married to Michael since 1970. We have a married son and married daughter and 7 grandchildren. We homeschooled our children from 6th grade through high school in the 80's when homeschooling was pretty rare for older children. (To read Gail's post about being a homeschool pioneer, click here.)
After my husband's 22 years in the Army, we both got seminary degrees in discipleship and we did Christian work in Budapest, Hungary for 5 years. When we returned to the U.S. in 2009, we thought we were settling for the last time near our children and grandchildren in NC. But in 2015, God gave us "marching orders" and we moved again, this time to volunteer with ITEC in FL. (To read, "We Serve a God of Adventure", click here.)
Cheryl: What life events led up to your decision to follow Jesus?
Gail: My parents taught me Christian values, we attended church regularly, and my paternal grandmother was a particularly loving witness. When I was in high school, my mother's faith became vibrant and she strongly influenced me. She recommended several Christian biographies that had great impact on my life: the Hiding Place and God's Smuggler were two that especially touched me. (To read, "Our Cheerleaders", click here.)
When I was pregnant with our youngest, I began to feel there must be something more to life, and I decided to attend a Bible study. Why a Bible study? My only explanation is that the Holy Spirit was leading me. For months, I sat silently in this non-denominational group of military wives, listening to them speak about knowing Jesus in a way I didn't know Him. I don't know the hour or even the day that I chose Christ because it was a progressive giving of myself to Him, but it happened within 4-6 months of starting that study.
Even though I wasn't coming out of an especially broken life, the change in me was still dramatic. I couldn't get enough of God and His Word. For the first 6 months after Christ got hold of me, I somehow managed to keep up with my household duties, mother two little ones in diapers, be a wife to a busy soldier, attend 2 Bible studies, a prayer group, and church each week. I couldn't wait until nap time so I could steal away and read my Bible. It had something relevant for me on every page and I couldn't get enough.
Cheryl: When did you start blogging? What is unique about your blog? How has your blog enriched your life and ministry?
Gail: My blog has been an integral part of my personal growth and healing.
In 2011 I experienced a broken relationship with someone I love very deeply. I tried on my own to restore the relationship, but the other party wasn't interested. I was deeply wounded and I spiraled down into a depression, woke up sad, went to bed sad, and cried on and off throughout the day.
My husband hated to see me suffering, and he was very supportive, yet nothing seemed to change my perspective. But God knew exactly what I needed.
My sister, who wasn't regularly reading her Bible, suggested I write a very short email devotion for her to read each day. Via word of mouth, 50 ladies signed up and I launched 1-Minute Bible Love Notes in July 2011.
I knew immediately it was my route to recovery. Each devotion became a step out of my pit. I was back in God's Word, "telling myself the truth" instead of feeding on my sorrows. God was showing me that the only Person I could not live without was Him.
In the last 5 years, God has taught me so much about myself and others through writing devotions. I believe my brokenness has actually equipped me for writing Bible Love Notes.
You might think that coming out of depression my blog would be designed to affirm people and encourage their self-esteem. But I don't think anyone would describe it that way. Recently one of my readers wrote and thanked me for "boldly discomforting" her. I've learned that appropriate feelings about myself come from affirming and esteeming my Jesus, not affirming and esteeming myself.
Instead, I want to challenge my readers and spur them on to love and good deeds because I need to be challenged and spurred on. The situation that threw me into depression has continued, but I am learning day by day to forget what's behind and press on toward the goal. I think there are many others like me out there because I now have 10,000 subscribers - more than I would have asked or imagined!
Cheryl: What are the causes closest to your heart? What are you most passionate about?
Gail: Having lived in the South for over 10 years, my heart aches over bigotry, and I hate seeing the Confederate flag honored when I know what it symbolizes for our African-American brothers and sisters. (To read, "Flags or People", click here.)
I am also saddened by my country's acceptance of abortion, pre-marital sex, co-habitation, homosexuality, and other forms of immorality. (To read Gail's articles, "Hard Teaching, click here, "No Laughing Matter", click here, and "We're Havin' Fun", click here.)
But perhaps my greatest passion, the reason I write, is my feeling that Christians are perishing from lack of knowledge. I get so many comments and emails from people who share beliefs not found in Scripture. They depend on others to tell them what the Bible says and they have no discernment. (To read, "Let's Get To Work, click here, and "Multiply", click here.)
Cheryl: We would love to hear about your work with ITEC. What is it, and who is affiliated with it? How did this organization come to be, and how did God orchestrate the details for you to become a part of it? How has being involved with this ministry impacted your life?
Gail: Nate Saint was a missionary pilot who was martyred along with 4 other young men in Ecuador in 1956 attempting to take the Gospel to the Waodani, an extremely violent stone age tribe. Nate's son Steve Saint was five at the time, and after an interesting life in business and missions, he founded ITEC. The purpose of ITEC is to develop equipment and training to help indigenous people share the Gospel with their own people. They've developed a solar powered dental chair that can be taken into the jungle in a back pack. And that's just one example of things they are working on. (To read, "A Saint's Life", click here, "All the Way to Timbuktu", click here, and "Endured or Cured", click here.)
Early last year, we felt the Lord telling us we were going to move, but we didn't know where. We prayed about it for several months and felt the Lord leading us to contact ITEC. After going through their volunteer interview process, we felt confirmed that God was calling us to this move. My husband does administrative work with ITEC.
Three years ago, Steve Saint suffered a serious spinal cord injury while testing some equipment, and he's an incomplete quadriplegic. I am presently helping him get a blog up and running. Steve has a blog about his mission philosophies, and ITEC has a website, but we are working on a blog where he can share more aspects of Christian living as a husband, father, and grandfather.
It's a blessing to know that at any age God has meaningful work for us to do.
Cheryl: If you could go back in time and change one thing about your past choices, what would you change? Why?
Gail: There are many things I would change. I've made lots of mistakes and I'm still in process of putting off my old self with its evil desires and putting on my new self in Christ.
But a few specific things I'd change:
There were times I put too much focus on my children. I know that sounds like heresy from a former homeschool mom. A mother should serve and sacrifice for her children, but I think our country has moved from loving and nurturing children to honoring them and giving them a sense of entitlement. This isn't just my view. There is a growing body of evidence that younger Americans expect to receive honor instead of give it and it is causing problems in the marketplace and the family. (To read, "Needs and Desires", click here, and "Takers and Givers", click here.
I have always loved to study my Bible, but if I had my life to live over, I would study it more deliberately. We do meal plans and lesson plans and exercise plans, but most of us just let our discipleship happen. (To read, "Lives Are At Stake", click here, and "Hide God's Word, click here.)
If I had life to live over, I would also be more deliberate about focusing on my blessings instead of my problems. I've wasted some of my life by focusing on the things going wrong and ignoring all the things going right. This life will always have troubles, a good reminder that we are only aliens and strangers here....we are not home yet. (To read, "I Can't Be Happy Unless", click here.)
Cheryl: We are living in such difficult days, as Christians, and surely we are seeing God’s Word fulfilled on so many levels, and the battle can see too overwhelming to fight. How do you stay encouraged and enthused in your Christian walk? Do you have particular “go-to” Scriptures that are favorites? What words of encouragement would you like to share with the soul who is struggling and ready to give up?
Gail: I desperately need time with God, time in His Word, and fellowship with other Believers who will challenge me and hold me accountable. I think these are keys to Christian growth. (To read, "Spiritual Atrophy", click here.)
From my perspective, the key to overcoming discouragement of any kind is to quit focusing on ourselves and our problems and start focusing on the love of God and our blessings. (To read, "The Power of Negative Self-Talk", click here.)
We also need the prayers of others, but we should be careful to share our problems with the right people - people who are quick to pray for us but cautious about giving advice. (To read, "Pray for Them", click here, and "3 Ways to Comfort", click here.)
When making a big decision or dealing with a particular difficulty, I'll set my alarm to go off every hour throughout the day as a reminder to pray. This helps me stay focused. (To read, "Set Your Mind, or Set Your Alarm", click here.)
Cheryl: How do you want to be remembered?
Gail: Years ago, I wrote this poem, and I think I would like to be remembered as a woman of the Word whose desire is to grow closer to the Lord day by day, minute by minute : ) (Philippians 3:8-9)
A Woman of the Word
The Bible wore her imprint,
Its cover soft from use;
The pages rubbed and wrinkled,
The binding coming loose.
And even if this Christian,
And her Bible were apart;
She still would have it with her,
Hidden in her heart.
Oh, make me such a woman, Lord,
Who hungers to be fed;
Who cherishes a line from You,
More than her daily bread.
And when my days are over,
May it be my epitaph;
“She longed to spend more time with Him.
And now is doing that.”
Cheryl: How can we pray for you, at this time? Are there particular burdens you are carrying that we can help you lift to the Father?
Gail: I would like to "finish well." I would like to go out of this world exalting my Savior and living in such a way that others will know I fought the good fight and finished the race. At our ages, my husband and I are "slowing down" physically, but we never want to retire from God's work. (To read, "Fruitful Palms", click here.)
Gail, with the love of her life, Michael
Thank you ever so much, dear Gail, for sharing your heart and inner views with us here!
Your testimony is a shining light of Jesus' love, and you consistently bless us all by your presence.
I trust the Lord to keep you and Michael bearing much spiritual fruit together for many years to come!
Thank you, dear friends, for taking the time to read this special interview.
I deeply appreciate all of your love, support, and encouragement.
I deeply appreciate all of your love, support, and encouragement.
May God bless each one of you in a special way!
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