Today, Gloria speaks to us about her beautiful question for God, wisdom for periods of waiting, loving those with chronic illness, her connection to trees, and having a firm grip on truth.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: My early childhood years were spent sneaking into the forest behind my grandmother’s house with my cousins, crushing tree berries in the summer to ‘eat’, playing house with my sisters and racing boys in the school yard.
The latter half of my childhood years were spent processing the death of my big sister, gauging how to box-in my inner goof, and honing my craft as a writer and musician while navigating what it looked like to serve God with what I had to offer. I have always been thankful that my parents gave me and my siblings a full life to look back on. Those years were truly formative to who I am today.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I am learning to let the Lord stand and fight for me in a season that He’s called me to rest (or learn how to). I struggle with the fear that if I’m not serving, I won’t be in tune with the Spirit anymore, but that’s the furthest from the truth. I have found that it is in surrendering in obedience to what the Lord asks of me that the Holy Spirit in me is strengthened.
Profession: I work in digital marketing, but I am a writer and storyteller at heart.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I’d title my memoir “The Journey Home”.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? As a child, I think I had always encountered God in subtle ways. Perhaps the most memorable encounter was on the night of my seventh birthday. I locked myself in my bedroom and cried as I watched the sunset because my father chose to have his friends over to celebrate the new year rather than spend the evening celebrating with me.
I remember feeling so heartbroken and unimportant as tears streamed down my face, and then something in me began to shift. As I closed my eyes, I began to see the most vibrant color of green. When I opened my eyes, I felt peace radiating over me. That night, I promised myself that my favorite color would always be green, and my favorite number would be seven. I think that was the first time I ever felt the Father’s love for me.
Little did I know, I’d grow up to feel a deep connection to the symbolism of trees, life and being rooted. As a matter of fact, God has given me numerous visions of trees in recent years during times of sorrow; and as I think back on it now, there is no doubt that it was He who met me and covered me with peace on my seventh birthday.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I have grown tremendously in the waiting. I am not who I was a year ago, or even six months ago. In waiting for a job opportunity, God taught me to understand that He is my sustenance and primary source of need.
In waiting for a new home, God prepared me for the weighty responsibilities that come with making and keeping a home that is peace-filled. In waiting for unity to be restored, God guided me through the importance of initiating forgiveness and reconciliation. And in my waiting for children, God is prompting me to trust that He is good on His promises and that He is always on time.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I have put books on the back burner, as I have dived into the Word and devotionals to ground me in the waiting. I read 2 Peter 3 again recently, and it has stuck with me since. Peter instructs us to not lose our firm grip on the truth. He beckons us to continue growing in grace and intimacy with Jesus. I am reminded that that’s just it—to grow in grace and intimacy with Jesus is to have everything we need for any season of life until Kingdom come.
“Peter instructs us to not lose our firm grip on the truth.”
Top three essentials: Notebook, camera, Bible.
How did God speak to you recently? I recently received news that left me and my husband devastated. Just minutes later, I looked up to see that God had painted a clear picture in the sky that mirrored a vision He showed me in March. Though I won’t go into details, I can firmly say that my husband and I glimpsed the hope set before us even in the wake of receiving sad news that day. We hold fast to that hope because we know God has never failed us and never will.
“We hold fast to that hope because we know God has never failed us and never will.”
Hobby: Of all the things I love doing, worship wins.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Tip No. 1: Read and engage with Scripture.
Tip No. 2: Surround yourself with spiritually strong people to lean on and do life with.
Tip No. 3: Talk to Jesus about everything as you go about your day and create space for Him to respond.
Favorite person in scripture? I have always felt connected to David, and I think it’s because he and I are wired similarly in the way we express ourselves. I admire David’s ability to wholeheartedly lament and praise the Lord in the same breath. I always thought I was alone in the way I feel deeply and process quickly as a response, but then I grew up and learned that David was a fellow feeler who also wore his heart on his sleeve while being a man after God’s own heart.
“I always thought I was alone in the way I feel deeply and process quickly as a response, but then I grew up and learned that David was a fellow feeler who also wore his heart on his sleeve while being a man after God’s own heart.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? All my life, I have found that when I turn the pages of my story, it is easy for me to recognize that I have been through a lot more than many people my age. By the grace of God, I have overcome every single time. While I have often been overwhelmed at this weighty story of mine, in light of all that God has done in my life, it is my desire to be a teacher of hope. In everything I do, I want people to know the faithfulness and intentionality of God and how that changes us when we resolve to hope even still.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I don’t know if I’ve marked my community, but I know I have been marked by their love and grace for me. And if I have not yet, I hope to make a difference in the lives of those who make up my community by committing to show up, to listen intently, to impart what wisdom I have and to learn from them, too.
“I don’t know if I’ve marked my community, but I know I have been marked by their love and grace for me.”
Favorite holiday? I love Christmas for so many reasons. Christmastime gives me an extended period with the people I love most as we celebrate the One we love most.
A goal you have? I’d like to write a devotional and publish a memoir with a collection of misc. essays one day.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My family gathers every New Year’s Eve to hang out, eat, share resolutions, celebrate my birthday and ring in the New Year together.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? It took me a long time to truly let God lead me in every aspect of my life, so my former self would probably have a list of “why’s” to ask God. I’m so relieved to say that my present self is a lot more content with the unknown. When I get to heaven, I’d like to ask, “Lord, what was your favorite moment with me on earth?” Can you tell that my love language is Words of Affirmation and that I’m a Type 2 who cherishes relationships?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I want to be an advocate for loving on and supporting those with chronic illness. It is a lonely and often overlooked journey.
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine has changed a lot and is usually rushed since I started at my new job. Currently, mornings look like waking up, getting ready, rushing out the door, praying with my husband in the car, clocking in at work, sitting down in my office to have quiet time and then writing a checklist to begin my workday.
What is on your nightstand? Every night, I place a stool beside my bed to hold my phone as it charges while I sleep. That’s it!
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity isn’t a never-ending fight to be good, but an experience of knowing and operating out of the love and goodness of God that was fulfilled on the cross through Jesus so that we might live to bring Him glory for all the days of our lives.
For more Gloria:
Instagram: @glojayeveryday + @glojaycollective
Until next time, keep witnessing!
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