Sunday, March 31, 2024

Living a Hallelujah Kind of Life


My very favorite alter

1 Peter 1:3: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Corinthians 15:21: "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man."

Easter, a joyous day as we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead.  A beautiful season of hope, renewal, and new beginnings.  A season of love and Christian fellowship.   

I hadn’t realized how much Christian fellowship was lacking in my life until I spent a beautiful day interviewing Lisa French for the Home & Harvest magazine a couple years ago. Lisa explained she and her family are part of a Christian community called Heritage Idaho , an agrarian and craft-based Christian community. It was all about coming together to live a God-centered life.  As Lisa spoke about the people in her life, how they help each other, their values and basically life in general, a slow yearning started in me.

And with that Rod & I began our search for our own Christian church family.  We spent several months attending different churches and then one day, we walked into the Venture Church . One sermon by Pastor Scott, the welcoming people in the church and we were hooked. We’ve been attending and active ever since.  One of the best things we ever did was to join a small group where we gather 2-3 times a month to have dinner and discuss life & the gospel. There is seriously a magic that happens when you surround yourself with likeminded, God centered people.  

Rod grew up in a church centered family, I did not. Over a year now, I’ve been studying the bible and strengthening my relationship with God. And it fills my life with a new kind of joy and peace.  The best way to describe it is I am living a “hallelujah” kind of life.  And as I texted Lisa recently, I shared her impact on me, thanked her and closed with that she has helped "a stray lamb come back to the Shepard".

With that, I sincerely wish each and everyone one of you a blessed Easter. I hope that you too are living your life as a “hallelujah”, where you will be filled with the beautiful love from our Savior.

Xoxo  Gayle

Sunday, February 4, 2024

God Kiss Series - Ethopia & Love


Our family in Ethiopia with our honorary son

~ This story is featured in the Home & Harvest January/Feb 2024 magazine and I wanted to share it as well on my blog.  g

Imagine yourself sitting down with a book. On the cover, it looks ordinary, like hundreds of other books, but you buy it anyway. You open it up and start reading….

Boy meets girl and they become high school sweethearts. They marry.  They move to the Palouse so she can attend vet school.  She finishes school and they decide to start a family. But then … fertility struggles. After a couple years of fighting the good fight of trying to have a baby, they are finally blessed with Baby #1. But was that it, or did God have more in store? They hoped for more children. 

A fairly common scenario,  except the part where infertility leads to the part where they help hundreds of street people on a different continent.  Wait?! What?!… PLOT TWIST!!! And with that, let me introduce you to, Josh & Jill Quaade, two regular people with a story like none other.  

Like most people, you marry and usually the pitter patter of little feet is the next step.  For Josh & Jill,  after a  bit of a struggle, the blessing of daughter #1 came along.   But then came the decision of what else would God have them to do.  Should they maintain with one child or add to their family through another avenue?   After much prayer and research, they were led to Ethiopia to adopt Baby #2. After selecting an agency, they were sent regular updates on available children. One day in the Spring  of 2008, the weekly summary, complete with pictures of various children available, spoke to Jill, she knew God had a daughter for them.  She handed the flyer to Josh and said, “do you see our daughter”.  Josh took one look and pointed out a picture of their future little girl. They both knew instantly, independently yet together, the one God had for them.  They had decided that her name had to be connected with the word “Joy”, for there was so much joy in those eyes that had seen so many struggles in the few short months of her life.  Adoption proceedings began and after what seemed like a very long year of waiting, Josh and Jill learned that the orphanage home to their daughter had to move the children to a different location. Josh volunteered to assist with the move and flew to Ethiopia. During the taxi ride to the orphanage, the driver began explaining to Josh about his mission to help the street kids who lived without home or family in the city.  He gave detailed insight to the plight of these young people and how every Wednesday he somehow eked out enough money from his $30 per month wages to feed these hungry, impoverished youth as well as some women & men.  With hesitation in his voice Josh, called Jill that night and told her of the taxi drivers’ tale and asked what she thought about helping. They agreed to pray about it. After Josh returned home from his trip, it was clear that God was asking them, “will you go”? Will you help my people?” The answer was then “YES”.  They would help this random taxi driver with his mission of Wednesday food for the youth and whatever else God put before them.  

Jill with a baby from the daycare program

Together, Josh & Jill knew this was their calling – with a “heart for Jesus”, they knew they had to help nourish the souls and bellies of this vulnerable population.  As Jill put it, “feeding the belly lasts one day, but feeding the soul with Jesus lasts an eternity”.  So in 2009 they formed a 501c3 nonprofit corporation called “One Changed Life”.  A board of directors was assembled.  Twelve kids were initially sponsored, wherein it provided life necessities. The taxi driver and they, side by side, strove to feed the body and the soul.  Josh began traveling to Ethiopia regularly and witnessed how great a work God was doing not only with the sponsorship kids, but also in continuation with the street ministry. 

Street boys prayer time

At first churches would allow the use of their building for the weekly food sessions that drew about 75 kids and adults. But as time went on the churches raised their rent forcing the program to move and regular meetings became a struggle. After 8 years of doing this, Josh & Jill knew they needed some kind of permanent compound. The Ethiopian government began to crack down on the need to separate humanitarian work from evangelical work. One Changed Life worked with a “humanitarian license ” to feed the kids” but to formally teach the gospel, they needed their own area where they could house a second licensed entity with an evangelical license.

With a clear vision, a sister organization, under the umbrella of One Changed Life was formed. A donor stepped forward and donated 3 months of rent.  After discussion with their board, a decision was made to go forward when and if they could raise rent for 80% of a year.   They started praying, and within 3 weeks, donations to provide enough rent for one year were donated.  An entire compound was rented and the work to move forward  to again  provide food and gospel teachings side by side was blessed.  The ministry began feeding about 280 people 5 days a week and the sponsorship program blossomed.   At the new compound, through donations and much fundraising in the states, staff was hired and programs were established to help , sponsorship now serving 109 kids, widows with job training to help them be self-sufficient, feeding and teaching the Gospel to 35-75 kids per day with ages ranging from 3- 18 years of age, and feeding, teaching and counseling about 180 men and women from the street. All who come into the street ministry get a meal and a short biblical message daily.  The facility also has allowed them to host annual programs for the sponsorship kids such as putting on biblical musical productions to bring joy, singing, and music to enhance day to day life and vacation bible school programs.

Mommas in traditional dress

And life continued on for Josh & Jill in America as well.  While all this was going on, they  adopted frozen embryos and were blessed in welcoming their twin “snow babies”, Baby #3 & Baby #4. Time continues to march on and Josh & Jill now home school their 4 children which allows them  the ability to typically spend 3-5 months a year in Ethiopia.  Josh is self-employed.  His employees keep the business afloat while he is away.  Jill works part-time and says she has the best employer ever, who allows her all the time away she needs.

With the increasing time Josh & Jill have spent in Ethiopia, it became obvious God was calling them to do more. Homeless mamas and babies would make their way to the compound, as they had no place to call home.  After much prayer and discussion with their board, it was decided to open another compound as well, where the mamas and babies could go live, learn the essentials of life and faith, along with the tools to make it on their own.  And once again the funds came in. In 2021, the Women’s & Infants Transition Home was opened.  With another full home of Ethiopian staff,  10 single moms with nowhere else to go are able to live at the women’s home.  Over the course of a year, they  receive training in basic life skills, parenting, and the Gospel along with skills training on how to make items to sell. Item they make include bracelets, soaps, cards and scrubs.  They are taught the basics of business and  sell their items both in Ethiopia and  to friends of OCL in the U.S.A,  all with the goal of being self-sufficient.  All these funds are saved for their transition into life out of the home.  They are also given training in trade schools lasting 3-4 months for learning how to become a cook, housekeeper, seamstress or childcare (being a nanny).  Each mama is provided 3 months of rent upon securing a job and moving from the Women’s Home.  

And it has just kept going.  Just after the Women’s home was opened, a boy’s home was opened just down the street.  In this home, boys from the street who wanted a fresh start could live and grow in the home, go to school, and learn how to be a productive citizen.  Now, the boys who live in the home help out voluntarily with the feeding program and Vacation Bible Schools that minister to other street boys who are still stuck in the street life.  Always seeking ways to make the most of Gods provision and to make the  most of the space,  the basement of that home,  by God’s provision,  was converted into a daycare and was opened to provide care for the babies of the graduate moms during the day as standard daycare is overwhelmingly expensive.   

Still, God had more, a discipleship program was started, typically, with about 75 men signing per session.  Unfortunately, the dropout rate is high and usually 12 men graduate.  The men who stay received job training, help do outreach to other street men, and often help donate money back into the program as they are eternally grateful for being shown a new way to live, skills to help them be stable but most importantly living a Christian lifestyle.  

Street men's breakfast

All this is accomplished by 18 full-time staff members:  two feeding programs, a discipleship program, a women’s and infants transition home, a boys home, women’s empowerment training and  109 sponsorship kids.  Affectionately Josh and Jill relayed the story of one of their first sponsorship children, Ephrem, who was sponsored since he was 9 years old.  He is now a 24 year old young man and an active part of the staff ministering to the boys from the street and helping with translation.

The excitement and joy of their life work for Josh & Jill was evident as they were telling me their amazing story. Both feel beyond blessed in working to make all the things that most of us take for granted such as a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, enough food to eat and the opportunity to be self-sufficient, not to mention knowing basic life skills. Today these children, men, and women have found a soft landing with Christian love that has forever changed their lives for the better.  Josh and Jill  are grateful to God to help them see the need and be instruments in lessening human suffering.

When I asked if the taxi driver was still driving his taxi, Josh proudly the man, with the help of an investor, opened several businesses and employees 90 people, many of whom he has hired after graduating from the job training programs. His heart still joyful in serving the God  who gave His all for him and happily giving so much of his personal time and resources to the ministry.

Then Jill happily said the next program that they hope to focus on is  a coffee shop that will be a gift shop wherein the women from their home can sell their crafts, work, make a good living  and be self-sustaining.  Once again, they give it to God in prayer.   

As we finished the interview, I was seeing firsthand the beauty and faith of two ordinary, but beautiful God filled people doing exactly what the Bible has taught us. I swear images of Mother Theresa were flashing in my mind as I was talking to them. When I inquired if they were affiliated with a church, they replied no. They were just filled with a Jesus loving heart and doing what God had led them to do. And then as we sat, taking in the moment that this amazing journey all began because of infertility issues.  And in reflecting at each occurrence along the way with just the right person entering into the story at just the right time, coincidence? Nope, I personally do not believe in coincidences, however, I do believe in serendipity by God’s hand.  All you have to do is have the eyes to see it.

Sometimes words aren’t enough to describe the wonderous beauty of seeing in real life what it looks like for two people to take a leap of faith to help their fellow mankind and walking a Christian life.  To find out more about their organization, their website is, email is

And as the promise of the new year awaits for each one of us, what kind of story will you be living? Where does your heart lead you?  May we all find the faith and courage to live our best life in 2024 and beyond.  All my best, Gayle


Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas Letter 2023


A picture of this beautiful church taken this past summer

Christmas 2023

In the early morning hours, words started swirling about to write a Christmas letter.  As I crept down the stairs the house is quiet, a good time to reflect on this past year.  With a freshly brewed cup of coffee,  a cozy spot by the fire, I wish each and every one of you a very blessed Christmas. 

If you have ever watched the movie “The Way” (which I recommend wholeheartedly) it’s about a man walking a path towards a very specific journey's end.   And I realized that everyone’s life is a lot like that movie.  In that each of us is walking on their own path with the end goal to a specific destination.  We walk along with others, some for a time, sometimes alone.  The people we meet along the way help shape us in ways that teach us lessons about life, love and hope.  Sometimes the lessons are brutal and harsh and sometimes they are pure beauty. For me, it’s fair to say that overall, the most significant experiences were the hard ones, but that they resulted in learning about faith, hope and love.  I don’t know about you, but my pathway on my personal journey has been filled with many people, many lessons to be learned (usually the hard way), but nonetheless, each has had an impact on me that helped shape who I am and where I am going.  My end goal is eternal life with God. I am filled with the knowledge that our God is a great one.  This year for the first time, I’ve been reading a chapter a day in the book of Luke.  As I go about my days in this Advent season, it’s so easy to get side-tracked by all the hustle and bustle and forget the “Reason for the Season”  the birth of  Jesus.  Maybe you are like me getting so busy that all I see are the "to do lists"....and then in the quiet hours of early dawn, I realize what a magnificent gift has been bestowed to each and every one of us.  All we have to do is accept that gift of God’s love. It’s free.  He shows up for us.  Each day is a new one to get up and try our humanly best to live it in ways that honor our Savior. 

On a personal note, this year has been filled with so many blessings.  Rod & I did a commitment ceremony with his good friend and pastor performing the ceremony and attended by our immediate family.  For us it represents our commitment to each other before God.

This past year has been filled with many wonderful family gatherings and adventures, some close to home and some afar.  And regardless of where we were location wise, it was all about being connected to each other. We laughed, ate, drank and yes sometimes cried together - bonds formed of what makes up a family.  Is our life perfect? No, but each day we get to try to be the best we can… for me that is where “grace” is either given or received when I stumble and falter. 

I find as the years go by, filling my days with quality people that include family and friends, is where a person sees true beauty in life. We have also found a wonderful church and are forming a lovely church family there.  Words sometimes fail to convey the beauty of connectedness.  But it’s real and I can say both Rod & I feel it.

And with that, I wish for each and every one of you that as you walk down the path of your personal journey, that you find those good people who make your life beautiful, the ones who help hold you up when life knocks you down. And I hope you will take a moment to reflect on all the blessings in your life and give credit to God. My hope is that as you walk on this road that we call life, that one of your goals is to ask God to be your walking partner as we go up & down the hills towards our final journey’s end.  

Merry Christmas,


Our family....not a blended family... A BLESSED FAMILY 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

GOD Kiss Series - Earth Angels



We all have our “life stories” the ones that got us to where we are now.  The roads we have had to travel, whether chosen or not, we walked that path and learned so many lessons along the way.  Sometimes the lessons inflicted were brutal that no one should ever have to experience.  And then by the grace of God, we met beautiful souls who were nothing short of being “earth angels” sent to shape us and provide gentle guidance to help us step into what we were destined to be.  Once again, I am privileged to hear and share the incredible story of Bethany Bertsch. A courageous, beautiful young woman who is the living testimony of being the recipient of the beauty of God’s love and how simple acts of kindness helped shape a tender young girl.  And as you read her story,  you may find as I did that she has so many similar components to Tara Westover who wrote about her life titled, “Educated”.

When I first met Bethany, it was over coffee after she had extended the invite based on the contact card I had filled out after attending the Venture Church.  I had emailed her my God Kiss blog posts and one day she asked if she could share her story with me. And so…..

I arrived, pen & paper in hand and had no idea of what a journey she has been on.  Sitting in Bethany’s comfortable home and seeing the young kiddos energetically popping in and out of the kitchen, it was a normal setting that could be anywhere in any town of a young mom with little kids. It was a home filled with a little bit of chaos and a whole lot of love.

Bethany begins by telling me that no one would have recognized her when she was an 18-year-old.  She was beyond withdrawn and scared of the world at large.  However, at the legal age of emancipation, she gathered up courage and moved out to live on her own.  Bethany explains that when her parents married, they had 6 children between them from their first marriages, and then they had 4 of their own, of which Bethany was the oldest.  Her childhood was filled with neglect and abuse.  She & her family lived rurally in Northeast Oregon with no running water and no conveniences. She explained that her mother suffered from severe mental illness to the extent she burned down a historical school building. Her workaholic father was a conspiracist political activist who was rarely home. If trauma had a recipe, this would be it.

The only picture that shows my entire family, taken in 1997. I'm in the front in pink. 

Me on a truck in Promise. You can see the generator to the right. We turned on the generator a couple of times a week to do laundry and watch a show on TV. We got 3 or 4 channels with a big antenna.

My brother Nathan and I washing potatoes in Promise. There were times when potatoes were all we had to eat. Guess I was destined to be an Idaho girl.

Bethany and her siblings were all home schooled after finishing 6th grade. Her father felt that anything after that level of education in the public educational system was ripe for poisoning the minds of the children.  Her dad had tried to convince her that her role was to stay home and take care of him. However, when she turned 18, she left to try to navigate the scary world her father had warned her about. Being on her own, certain people began to show up in her life to become her “earth angels” to give her the guidance she so desperately needed. The first earth angel was the woman who gave Bethany a job as a dishwasher in a small café, and gave her a place to live above the café.  Bethany said her coworkers thought she was a “mute” as she was painfully shy, rarely speaking to anyone.  She says she often confused the manager and assistant manager with each other as they both wore similar shoes, noting she was unable to make eye contact with anyone.

-The Zollman girls, my sister, and me. Brenda Zollman is at the bottom. Charity Zollman, my dishwasher buddy, is above me.

Life might have gone on like that for months, maybe years…. but little did she know that God had a plan for Bethany’s life.  The second earth angel was the chatty young female dishwasher who was hired to work alongside of Bethany.  It was through their discussion that they learned they were distantly related as cousins.  And then the cousin took Bethany home and it was there that she was taken in by this Christian family who began showing her what a normal family life entailed.  They lavished love and wisdom on her and taught her basic common-sense things such as how to dress, how to relate to others and in this nurturing environment, Bethany flourished. While attending church services with them, the church prayed over her to release her demons and to help her heal.  Bethany recalls it was a turning point wherein she realized how horrendous her childhood had been. When I asked Bethany if she wanted to give an example, she opened up that life had been filled with emotional & sexual abuse from her older sadistic brother.  He was removed from the home, and it was then Bethany finally found the courage to come forward with the abuse to her mom. However even though her mom acknowledged that she had suspected it, that she failed to protect Bethany and allowed the brother to come home for visits.

Bethany brought her brokenness to God to heal her, and it was where she committed her life to Our Savior.  One night Bethany had a vision. Even though as she puts it, she was a baby Christian, she knew God was speaking to her and that in her vision she saw a roadmap with streets and pathways on it.  And as it unfolded, the map showed roads crisscrossing each other and that the pathway was highlighted denoting where she had been and where she was going.

With the newfound faith along with the warmth of her cousin’s family, Bethany began to see the world in a new light and began to branch out.  At work she became a line cook followed by being a manager.  The owner of the café eventually shut down the business and the building was sold. That meant that Bethany was now out of a job and a place to live.  However, her former boss offered her a place to live in her basement.  When she went to look for a job with the unemployment office, she took a job placement test and it was there the third earth angel, a staff member said to her, “you are really intelligent, you should go to college!”  College had never entered Bethany’s mind as an option; however, this wonderful staff member helped her apply to 2 colleges, one in Central Oregon and the other was the University of Idaho.  Bethany chose the UI based on the financial grants offered.  She recalls arriving in Moscow with no money, no support and yet she felt she was exactly where she was meant to be.  Not long after, Bethany connected with Chi Alpha, the Christian student group on campus. It was there she met Clark, who later became her husband.   

Showing off my name on the outstanding senior board in the JAMM Department at UI with my major professor Becky Tallent and admin assistant friend Diane McGarry. I was accepted to UI on a provisional status because of my SAT score and lack of educational records. But I loved college and did well there.

One day while attending the Palousafest, she collected church literature of area churches and chose the one that was close to campus.  Currently it was called Christan Life Center on Jackson Street and she attended while working on her degree.   Fast forward, Bethany graduated from the UI in Public Relations, married Clark and blissfully settled into a life that she never imagined was available to her.  

In 2014, Pastor Scott Underwood took over as paster for the Christan Life Center which then turned into Venture Church.  During this time Clark and Bethany gave birth in 2017 to their son and she recalls his parents had gifted them with an expensive flannel craft biblical children’s story board for the baby.  And one day Pastor Scott asked if they would lead the children’s ministry when a vacancy occurred, of which they said yes!  After all they had this amazing story board and were excited to serve.  Not long after that Bethany took the lead and has been in charge of overseeing the care and education of the youth in Venture Church ever since. Last year Bethany stepped up to serve in a paid role as the Connections Pastor along with her duties in the Children’s ministry.  Today, Bethany says she feels like she is living in a “Hallmark movie” where life is full, joyful and beautiful. And Bethany feels blessed to be living a God-centered life with a wonderful husband and their three precious children.  As a bonus, Clark’s mom came to live with them a year ago, and again, a blessing to have her sweet mother-in-law’s presence and help. And even with great strides, love and support Bethany confided that she occasionally suffers from PTSD and that certain things will trigger childhood memories that she has to work through.

When I asked Bethany if she had any other visions, the answer was yes. Bethany recalls that she was in God’s Throne room and desperately wanting to go in, but she knew she couldn’t as she wasn’t clean. She was sobbing and then she noticed drops of wetness on her from above. She says it was the blood of Jesus dripping on her and everywhere it landed, she became clean.

There's a recent one of Clark and me and the kids. 

In hearing the story of this brave young woman’s story of survival and faith. I was awestruck by all the events that occurred to change the trajectory of this tender soul. So many things went right.  Just the right person at the right time to be a lifeline, a safe haven and a guide post. Each person doing their own little part that came together to make a truly beautiful story of success.  And unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky or blessed. “Child sexual abuse can have lifetime impacts on survivors—especially without support. It can impact educational outcomes, lead to heightened symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, higher suicidality, drug abuse, higher likelihood of teen pregnancy and chronic health issues.” (as reported by  YWCA)

It’s hard to understand the evil in the world, however, we all have free will and the ability to make choices.  Bethany could have chosen to not accept the help of the earth angels sent to help her.  And thankfully she did.   The road Bethany had to travel as a young child was beyond horrific, however sometimes you have to know the story of where a person came from to understand how far a person has moved forward.  Bethany is a living witness to the greatness of Jesus who helped her overcome hurt & sorrow and become a cornerstone of what a beautiful life can be when you are a Child of God.  

Look to the lord and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV


Sunday, October 1, 2023


Have you ever been somewhere in public and noticed someone who radiates pure joy?  And you wonder what the source of that wonderous attitude is?  For the past several Sundays, I began noticing the happy joyful group of college age students in church.  And one young man always stood out to me, and I enjoyed his devout energy that he had during the music portion of the service.  In pondering who to write about for October, I was drawn to this young man, Luke Hoover. And one Sunday before services started, I walked up and asked for the interview and Luke graciously agreed.

Luke began his story saying he had the classic Christian upbringing as his family was active in their church in Alaska.  His mom is a nurse practitioner, and his dad is a pilot.  Luke recalls as a young lad that he accepted Jesus one day while sitting on the sofa with his dad.  And his life has centered around being a child of God ever since.

Luke describes himself as being a people pleaser and says he would often be described as having biggest heart. And as a child, he didn’t understand the phrase of having a big heart, this just came naturally for him as he deeply cared for people.  Ironically, Luke did have a heart condition and had to undergo treatment. Around 7th or 8th grade his parents divorced. And his first thought was, “how can I be of help to my family?”  Luke admits he never thought about himself, his focus was outward working to be a support to his siblings and parents.  And that is where he describes Satan as coming into his life to work against him. Luke found himself trying to being what the other person wanted or needed him to be. He would be one way for one person and another way for someone else.  He was trying to be the person that everyone wanted him to be.  And this began a downward spiral as he couldn’t say no and Satan pounced on that and ran with it.  Luke was in emotional deep pain but couldn’t share it with anyone. He kept it hidden as best he could. Luke relied partially on God and like many of us, we ask for help, however we never fully give those burdens to God. Instead, we step in and try to figure our life on our own.  I’ve done this multiple times and maybe you have too, and Luke fell into that same trap.  And finally, when his heart and soul were depleted and he couldn’t give anymore, he shut down emotionally.  He stopped caring about others as he was trying to deal with his own emotions and problems. However, his outward actions continued on as to appear as the caring kind of person. No one knew his personal struggles. Having an analytical mindset, Luke studied psychology in high school to try to understand emotions and their effect on the human body & soul.

In Luke’s freshman year of college, a female friend made the observation that made him stop and re-examine himself.  The young woman said “Luke, your emotions are too perfect!”  She said “emotions are hard, messy and imperfect. You have to feel your emotions, good or bad!”  This got him to thinking about that and a shift began.  God was there, waiting to help.  And not long after that, when he was reading a scripture, it hit him and realized his friend was right. And Luke didn’t know where to start to begin the healing process for his own heart and soul. And that is when a message from God said, “don’t worry, I’m going to get you where you need to be”.

Shortly after that Luke began attending the Christan group on the University of Idaho’s campus called Chi Alpha. Its name means “Christ Ambassador”.  Luke describes himself as being an all or nothing kind of guy, so he jumped in with both feet.  Besides attending the meetings, he began taking a discipleship class to become a Facilitator after getting a nudge from God.  Gradually he began caring for others and found a true loving community.  In Luke’s own words, “he genuinely loves these people”.  Today he and the other Facilitators hold bible studies as well as mentor others.  While helping others Luke realized he still had a long way to go to begin his healing journey and first, God showed him his gracious and all consuming love, the God’s lesson was developing “Trust”. Trusting himself, trusting others. He began opening up to others about his pain and in his vulnerability true acceptance came from others. And it has helped Luke in his inward journey to get 100% healed emotionally.

The next lesson from God has Luke working on learning about “Hope”. Hope in Luke’s words is a by-product of trust.  Hope is the fruit from trusting in God. Luke discovered true joy during Chi Alpha’s worship nights. And one evening while talking to a friend about denial of feelings, they read a scripture from the book of Luke and it hit home.  Living joyfully, loving, caring and bonding with others is one of God’s blessings for us humans.

Luke went on to describe other activities that Chi Alpha does. A few were the Fall Breakaway Camp, Winter Camp wherein the chapters in the NW come together for worship, studies & game; and the Spring Break Outreach to other campuses without chapters of Chi Alpha.  As a facilitator, Luke meets/mentors others and this has led to a focus on a career pathway.  Luke did an intern as a Christinan Biblical Counselor and experienced ways a trained professional can help guide a Christian through their problems.

When I asked Luke what his future looked like after college, he wants to complete his Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification.  The purpose of the of the (CMA) “medical assistants work alongside physicians, mainly in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics.” Luke felt this would benefit him when he takes his MCAT to pursue his dream of becoming a MD with the final goal of becoming a physiatrist.

After listening to Luke’s story, once again I was in wonderous awe of God’s perfect plan for this dynamic young man. And I can envision how Luke’s past experiences with emotional burnout and his recovery following Our Creator’s guidance and lessons would one day help his fellow man kind, medically as well as spiritually.  Hallelujah! I call that silver linings..  

P.S. soooo happy you stopped by to read the blogpost.  And if this inspires you or maybe you know someone who may benefit from reading this.  Wishing you a blessed day.  Gayle


Sunday, September 3, 2023

GOD Series Blogpost - Sunday School


I had been pondering on who to interview for the God Kiss blog series.  I gave the search to God, and he answered- go reconnect with your old friend, Karen. For you see, we had been neighbors and became good friends back in the mid-1970s & 80s. And life happened and we both moved and lost touch with each other.  And low and behold, I remembered her old land line number… which is amazing since I can hardly remember anyone’s phone number let alone an ancient land line number from over 30 years ago! I called and got ahold of her with my request to be able to share her story about how she became a Christian.  We quickly met for lunch to reconnect and then set a time for me to come out to do the interview. And it was like were never apart for all those years, the friendship was still strong.

Karen recalls growing up in a suburb of Los Angles and while her parents didn’t attend church, they were the ones who showed up for others in times of need.  Their moral compass was always set up for compassion, grace and love of their fellow man.  Karen recalls the story of her mom raising her two siblings after the death of her own mom.  Her grandfather remarried a woman who basically used church as a weapon against her mom and siblings.  So even though attending church wasn’t a high priority of her parents, Karen’s mom and dad were the kind of people you would want in your world.   At around age 7 or 8 Karen asked her mom if she could attend Sunday school with her friend.  The answer was yes, and Karen and her friend would put on a dress every Sunday morning and then Karen’s mom would drive them to church and drop them off.  There Karen embraced the stories told by an amazing teacher.  And then they attended the worship services and embraced the scripture. It was where she learned the scripture John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Fast forward to the teen years, and like many of us at that age, religion was set aside and put on the back burner.   Life revolved around friends, social life which included partying and falling under the influence of our current world.  During the summers, Karen visited Idaho where her older sister lived.  And after high school and a few semesters of junior college, Karen packed her bags and drove to Mud Lake, Idaho to live near her sister & brother-in-law.  Karen landed a job as a legal secretary.  One night she attended a rodeo dance, and her brother in-law introduced her to Rick, a cowboy who was on the rodeo circuit.  Karen recalls that was a rough lifestyle which included a lot of drinking.  They married and Rick decided to leave the rodeo circuit and finish his degree at the University of Idaho.  They bought a home just outside of Moscow which happened to be a house next door to yours truly.  Besides being neighbors, we became good friends.  One day Rick came home with some biblical brochures he had been given.  Rick felt the calling to return to his structured Christian upbringing and recommitted his life to God.  I recall Karen telling me that Rick had become a Christian and we pondered what life would look like since neither of us were walking the Christian pathway.  Karen said for about 6 months that Rick would daily share his concern about her soul going to hell.  Karen was angry and just wanted her old husband back.  Finally Rick gave the situation to God, who also had plans for Karen.  Karen eventually committed her life to Christ and there they began their new life as Christians.  They had two daughters and settled into life as parents along with joining a legalistic centered church as Rick was raised in a stricter traditional setting.  For Karen as a new Christian, she struggled and questioned the church’s mandates/lists of rules that she felt were being placed on her to obtain God’s love. Often it felt that the rules were oppressive and unattainable to appease God. Some of the church practices required women to wear tunics/dresses, have their hair in buns and bake whole wheat bread. That along with submissiveness made Karen question these practices. It often felt that members were simply going through the motions while not living the gospel.  Rick was a faithful, kind, loving husband and father and together he and Karen continued their search for a church that would be a good fit for their family.   Karen began reading a book by Charles Stanley and there she finally felt free, that she embraced and understood how God valued her with or without her hair in a bun, wearing a dress and other lists of rules to adhere to in order to be a good Christian.   She experienced and continues to experience His grace and mercy and feels His presence moving in her life.  When her mother was dying in the hospital, Karen and her dad were there 24/7 taking shifts until the end.  It was shortly after that Karen was approached by a nurse who had witnessed Karen’s behavior along with that of anther Christian nurse and commented “that she wanted whatever they had in their lives” as she saw God’s grace in action.

Today their children are adults, married and leading productive Christian lives.  Rick and Karen are enjoying their lives and love the current church they are attending. As the church’s focus is committed to “preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We want all to be fed by God’s wonderful Word, and be fruitful in Him.”


              “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”  Psalm 34:8”


And as always, it is an honor for me to get to hear and share the life stories of others.  May God’s will be your guiding light in all you do.  Gayle

Sunday, August 6, 2023

God Kiss Blog Series - The Handprint

When I sat down to write this story, I could still feel the positive energy radiating in my heart and soul after the interview.  The quote by Bob Marley that kept circling in my mind were, “ You never realize how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have”.  And sometimes when others learn what you have endured, they will say to you, I don’t know if I could have survived that.  And while no one chooses to experience brutal life lessons, they happen. I think it’s fair to say we have all had our own hard times and how we survive and move on is the key.  For the story that I am about to share, her Texas roots show how she is living life in a “hell ya” kind of gusto & grit manner as well as her reverence for life. With that, I’m honored to share Sharon Fuller’s story. 

Before the interview began, Sharon outlined 4 life truths in this order:

·       First and foremost, being a Christian, noting that she has a very personal and private relationship with God.

·       Family - her sister Lezah, her children & special people who are like family.

·       Her love for America. For the freedom we get to live by and for our 2nd amendment rights.

·       Her support system from friends & community members.

Sharon spent her early life in Texas before her family of 6 moved to Genesee, Idaho.  Sharon said school and the encouragement of her teachers were her refuge from a troubled home life. Being in a small rural town, true friendships form not only with your friends, but often with their entire family. This was the case for Sharon.  Her best friend from high school is still her best friend today.  Together she and her friend helped campaign for her friends’ father who became a State representative and went on to later be the Speaker of the House.  This foray into politics gave Sharon a deep appreciation for understanding how government works as well as the rights of people.

After graduating from high school. Life was looming in a big and beautiful way with so many possibilities stretching out. One evening Sharon and her friend were talking about life and then they pondered what would the worst thing each could imagine that could impact their lives?  The friend said rape and Sharon said living life in a wheelchair.  The two moved to Lewiston, got a 2 bedroom apartment and both got jobs in a local nursing home before they started their career paths, which was flight attendant training for Sharon and college for her friend.

Sharon & her horse

Sharon recalls waking up and hearing a man’s voice in the early morning hours of July 4, 1977. The man had broken into their apartment and sexually assaulted both young women. He was later arrested and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. 

On June 30, 1978, Sharon was a newlywed and had been married for 12 days.  She and her new husband, Rick were scheduled to go to Walla Walla for business.  But Sharon had a premonition that she shouldn’t go. Feeling uneasy, she called her sister who said the same thing, that there was this gut feeling that she shouldn’t go on this trip.  However, Sharon needed to sign some paperwork, so she put her feelings aside, climbed into their truck and was sitting on the bench seat in the middle, with no seatbelts.   Just outside of Pomeroy a drunk driver hit them, the pickup rolled several times landing upside down.  Upon impact, Sharon was thrown through the windshield and landed several feet from the truck.  Sharon was transported to the hospital wherein it confirmed, she was now a paraplegic as her spine was broken in 3 places.  This required her to have a special brace inserted.  In the hospital her best friend came to visit her and during one of their talks, she looked at Sharon and quietly said, “you know,  the worst things we could ever imagine have now come to pass”.  

Sharon was sent to a Seattle trauma hospital for rehab and how to learn to live life in a wheelchair.   The first of many acts of kindness were about to unfold. The Sheriff’s office flew her in their plane to Seattle as she couldn’t sit up.  When the hospital learned of her newlywed status and that her husband was staying with her, they replaced the hospital bed with a new queen size mattress for the couple. After 8 weeks, the couple came home and started their new life.  A few months later, Sharon became pregnant. Many doctors were unwilling to take a pregnant paralyzed patient, until one brand new doctor fresh out of med school agreed.  And Sharon and Rick became parents of a beautiful son, named Brandon.  Marriage, new parenthood coupled with the stress of being a paraplegic were too much for the couple to navigate and they divorced when Brandon was 2 years old.  Looking back Sharon recalls being grateful to Rick for standing by her  and acknowledges she was mourning the loss of her legs and that she let her insecurities and fear end the marriage.  All along she had thought she would wake up one day and walk and didn’t take her paralysis seriously.  Nor her health.  Pressure sores developed and she was hospitalized. There, she sought help from a psychiatrist who guided her to the realization that she could live a full life, plus she now had a 2 ½ year old son to take care of.  It was a new beginning on so many levels.

For 12 years it was just Sharon and Brandon.  During this time, Sharon had a laptop and was tinkering around on it. This was access to the world.  There she discovered social media in their very early stages.  She learned about “My Space” followed by “Facebook”.  Sharon had also started working for a local business whose focus was to assist anyone with a disability.  Sharon realized the power of social media and thus the beginning of a social media coordinator career began.

It was there at work, that she met Ted, who ran the accessible public transit for the disabled patients.  The romance turned serious, and they moved in together.  With Ted, they had one daughter, Brittany and a year later Sharon became pregnant with fraternal twins, giving birth to a daughter and son, named  Cheyanne & Teddy.

The pregnancy with the twins caused many physical difficulties and Sharon was sent to Seattle to have the hardware in her spine removed, which took 19 hours of surgery.  After the surgery, Sharon also ended up with staph infection.  She says quit counting the number of surgeries after 100.  Her health deteriorated; she weighed 87 pounds.  During this time her sister, Lezah, Ted’s parents, and the Genesee community rallied around Ted and the kids. However, all the surgeries and pain were fertile ground for depression and hopelessness set in. 

As Sharon lay in the hospital bed, she heard her doctor ask her pastor who had come for a visit to please pray for her.   Later, alone in her room, Sharon looked at the crucifix on the wall and prayed to God to help her. She knew she could throw in the towel and let life slip away from her.  As Sharon is recounting the story, tears well up and she continues, noting that in her hospital room, there was a large window, and not long after her prayer, the cleaning lady came in.  As Sharon watched her begin wiping down the windowsill, the lady went to spray the window and just then Sharon noticed that a small handprint appeared. This was from a recent visit from one of her young kiddos who had been standing on the windowsill.  At that moment Sharon yelled to the cleaning lady to stop and leave that small handprint visible.  She felt that tiny handprint was a message from God telling her that he wasn’t going to let her die and that she had children to take care of.   Plus, He had a plan for her life.

Fast forward, Sharon came home and was able to resume her position at work. With a renewed passion for God and life and helping others, Sharon began attending several national conferences about centers for independent living.  In her professional work environment, Sharon and her colleagues were involved with helping to see the passage of Idaho laws pertaining to people with disabilities as well as the most fulfilling achievement, the “American with Disabilities Act”.  

Today, Sharon holds the position as a Social Media Coordinator, a job that she loves and has been a part of for the last 30 years in the community.

Sharon with her kids

Sharon participating in a race

Sharon living life large!

In conclusion Sharon is beyond grateful for all the acts of kindness and help she’s received throughout the years.  And each June 30, the day of the accident, Sharon celebrates it as a “I am here day!”  And looking back over her life, she says she doesn’t think she would change the outcome of what happened the day of the accident.  Those events gave her a strong Christian faith and the eyes to see all the goodness bestowed by her family, friends, and community. In Sharon’s own words, “it inspired me to live my life the best that I can!~ 

Her personal motto is: “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting holy cow what a ride!”

P.S. Next God Kiss post with be the first Sunday in September.   Feel free to share the blog with others. Leave a comment if this inspired you. xoxo  Gayle


Sunday, July 2, 2023

God Kiss - A New Journey


Road site crosses along a highway in Montana

In the quiet stillness of the predawn hours, I awoke with a clear message.  I call it a God Kiss.  For a while now, I’ve been feeling the gentle but insistent prodding from God to do more since I’ve been committed to deepening my relationship with Our Lord.

But I didn’t know what it was until I read Isaiah 6:8 “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” I  felt like it was a calling, I must answer.  And I knew that God wanted me to use my words and passion for writing and telling stories.

After interviewing and writing stories about others for the magazine Home & Harvest for a few years now, I gained a true love of interviewing people.   I felt privileged that they allowed me into their life and hear their story and then have the honor of putting it in words.  I loved it so much that as I await my next writing assignment for a different segment for the magazine, that I knew that I wanted to continue to write about people.  That I would seek out people to share their stories about how God works in their lives. There are so many blogs out there on how to do this or that and I can only hope that this finds its way to those who need to hear it. All I know is that I’ll do my part and Jesus will do the rest. It’s that simple.

And as I begin this journey of writing about being blessed by Our Savior,  it’s only fair to first start out with a little about me as I dip my toes in the holy water of writing about how God works in people’s lives. 

On a recent trip to the 406 (Montana) it’s common to see little white crosses along the highways.  I’ve seen them all my life and it was just part of the landscape, and I never gave them a second thought.  However, this time the significance of the marker registered that this was not just a cross, but it represented an actual person whose last day on earth was documented at the exact spot that their life ended on that fatal day.  And as we came upon each one, I wondered what that person was like, what were their hopes/dreams and did they have a good life? And if they knew that this was their final day here on earth, would they have wished they had lived a better life? Would they know that their pathway after death would be to go to the eternal kingdom?  

As for me, growing up we weren’t a religious family.  My dad was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist and seemed to have little regard for that religion as an adult. My mom didn’t have a strong religious life either. But they were good hard-working people trying to raise us right the best they could.  They baptized all of us kids as infants, but that was the extent of our religious guidance.  However, I had a longing even as a child to be a “Child of God”. One of my first memories as a young child was riding in a car with a woman who was taking me to Sunday School.  I must have loved it and talked about it a lot. However, my parents didn’t want the Mormon influence of this woman to impact their daughter, so they didn’t allow her to take me to church anymore.  I was envious of my Montana cousins as they regularly went to Sunday School and church with their parents. However, that was not the case in our household, our life was chaotic as we moved around so much, and we never had a permanence in anything.  By the time I had reached 7th grade I had been in 9 different schools in different towns as moved all over Montana and the Dakotas.

Fast forward to my teen and early adult years ….by then the world had gotten ahold of me and I didn’t pursue becoming a Christian.  I felt I was spiritual, but God definitely took a back burner.  I made good decisions most of the time, but I did make mistakes, truth be told….  lots of them.  I used God as a 911 call and then I’d let him step into my life while I was in a crisis. And slowly when life was better, I’d put him back on the shelf and go it alone until the next major crisis. For this I’m ashamed. Would my life have been better? Different choices made?  Most definitely. I can remember at least 2 separate times that I was bound and determined to take a wrong path… and God quite definitely steered me away and down the pathway he wanted. Whew!! Praise be to God!   However, I was and still am not perfect and I still will make less than stellar choices. Those  tough life lessons learned have helped give me insight and strength to help others. When you weather a storm, you understand and hopefully can help someone else get through a difficult time. Silver linings by the grace of God.

In my mid-20 and being a divorced mom of a 2 yoa, my mom had remarried and she and my beloved step-dad had invited me to attend a church they had started going to.  It was the most beautiful little country white church located in Genesee..  My daughter and I lived in Moscow but drove every Sunday to this picturesque church with its charming congregation that consisted of members mostly my parents or grandparents’ age. About a year later, a young man suddenly started coming and he sat behind me. He had come home to farm with his dad. Long story short, we married about 1 ½ later. A couple years later we had a daughter.  We raised the girls in this close-knit farming community, farmed, attended church and life busy & full. It was a beautiful part of our lives & I will forever treasure it.  While I loved the church community, it wasn’t fulfilling my spiritual needs.  I felt closest to God on my walks.  In 2012, after 28 years of marriage, tragedy struck with deaths of 2 close family members and my marriage ended all within a couple weeks of each other.  It was a brutally hard time for all of us.  I stopped attending our church. However, I continued my talks and felt God in my long walks.  He urged me to blog about healing, forgiveness and moving forward, which I did. I look back during those dark days and know Our Savior was walking along side me and giving me the strength to heal. Once again I have seen, felt and know I’ve been blessed. Looking back, I can see how God put certain people in my life for a reason, some to help,  some to learn lessons from which would serve to help me in the future.  He has a plan for me.  Plus by his grace he put the perfect man for me in my life.  Rod is truly is my earthly rock and haven and soul-mate. We each have a deep faith and absolutely love the Venture Church that we have started attending.

Each morning I read my life application study bible ( it is the best – as it explains what I am actually reading) and it’s so helpful.  And somewhere in my journey, I noticed a shift in myself.  It’s hard to explain, and the best way to describe it is that  I feel blessed beyond measure and have a contentment knowing that God is with me every step of the way.  Seriously, it’s the best feeling ever!

For the first time in my adult life, I look forward to going to church, it feeds my soul and I make it a priority.  I wake up thinking about Jesus and try to see all the beautiful little miracles each day.  And best of all, I know he will still love me when I make mistakes.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

I will say of the LORD,  he is my refuge and fortress: my God. In him I will trust. Psalms 91:2

As always, thank you for stopping by. I urge you to share this blog in hopes that it will brighten someone’s day knowing that we all live an imperfect sinful life and that life can be so much better if we give ourselves to Jesus.  And come on back as I share stories about others and I’ll title them “God Kiss Series ” as I get to share their story about their lives and how they have have been touched by God.   

Wishing God’s best for you,