Oh my, yes. This book was the result of encounter I had with a sparrow. I was home alone when I heard a commotion; a sparrow had trapped itself between our storm and regular window. He frantically threw his tiny body against the glass to escape. I unlocked the sash and lifted it a few inches. The sparrow became so agitated I was afraid the little guy would have a heart attack.
What if he flew into the house? I’d have a bigger problem on my hands.
Speaking in soothing tones I attempted to guide him into my hand. He hopped away from me.
Impulsively, I grabbed the sparrow by the tail feathers. With my other hand I formed a cell over him. He reacted more violently than I expected. I could barely hold him. Standing in the middle of the living room holding him with both hands, I wondered how I was going to open the doors to release him. I continued to alternately speak to him and pray.
Then we made eye contact. His shiny bead-like eyes and mine connected. Immediately his struggle ceased. I was able to remove one hand. He sat quietly in my palm as I opened the doors. Seconds later, he was free, and I was left in wonder.
For months afterward every time I saw a sparrow I replayed the event in my head. As much as I hated to admit it, the incident was a graphic picture of my relationship with God.
When I was in trouble, how many times had He reached out to rescue me, but I flew away in fear or confusion? How often was He forced to grab me by the tail feathers to prevent me from getting into more trouble? How many times had He held me in His hand only to have me fight Him, thinking I was trapped?
How much easier it would have been had I turned my eyes toward the Lord—to make eye contact with Him—and allow Him to set me free.
Awesome story! What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Great question! Life distracts me from writing. Unfortunately, I find most of those detours are created by me. I’m at the age where wandering into a room and forgetting why I’m there is commonplace. I can sometimes wander into a sentence and do the same thing.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
I devour mysteries and thrillers. Anything by Brandilyn Collins, Terri Blackstock, and Colleen Coble, I’ll finish in a day or two. Contemporary women’s I take a little longer—love Angela Hunt.
A recent development in the last few years is historical. This new interest began with one of my favorite authors, Cathy Gohlke. She did something I never thought possible which is to get me to read and enjoy historical fiction. Cathy has a way of taking historical events and giving them such life and context that I come away with a challenge to improve my life. Her most recent book, Saving Amelie is one of her best. I just read the first draft of her next book and I have to say, in my opinion, it is my favorite.
Suspense? Nice. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
How do I choose? My life is a series of quirky. When I was little I always positioned my bed against the wall because I prayed facing the wall. Many nights I cried myself to sleep facing that wall.
The first time I traveled to Jerusalem and prayed at the Kotel—the Wailing Wall—God brought that memory to me.
What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
My dad had flipped a coin to see whether my brother or I would spend the night with my grandparents.
I won the toss.
Normally grandma would have activities planned for us when we visited, but this being a serendipitous event she had to make do. She put aside her usual chores and took me by the hand. As we made our way toward the expansive front porch, we stopped by grandpa’s glass jar of lemon drops and snatched one for each of us.
We sat on the porch swing rocking back and forth, sucking on those sweet and sour treats, as she told me stories. Stories about her father, Dr. Robert Terry who made house calls in his horse and buggy. Some were spooky, like something you’d share around a campfire.
I don’t remember which story, or stories, she told me that particular day, I just remember she stopped what she was doing, spent time with me, and fed my imagination.
By the way, I have a photo of my great-grandfather the day he upgraded from buggy to an automobile. He’s sitting at the wheel, parked in front of his office. He looked so proud.
Lovely memory. Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
A simple question with a complicated answer. My favorite place to travel is Israel. Actually it’s where I left a sizeable portion of my heart—somewhere in Jerusalem. Hubby and I would love to retire in northern Israel, that’s our dream. I have family and friends who live in Israel. Besides, it’s the place where Yeshua (Jesus) walked and will return one day. Wouldn’t you love being there for that?
My favorite place to vacation is Jamaica—specifically Negril. Beautiful sand, pristine water, and nice folks.
Wonderful thoughts. Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?
As you can imagine, my trips to Israel have greatly impacted my life and subsequently, my writing. One particular incident happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. If you’ve ever been there, you have seen the magnificent ancient olive trees. It’s estimated they are around 2,000 years old, which means they were there when Yeshua (Jesus) prayed before His crucifixion.
Over the years they built a tall fence to protect the trees, but for those of us who love the tactile journey that is Israel it is was very disappointing to not be able to touch the bark, or search the ground for a leaf to treasure.
I remember trying to get my stubby body up high enough to reach a branch and lower to reach a leaf. Both failed attempts. I walked around the whole perimeter searching the sidewalk. Nothing.
I wanted a leaf—something to keep in my Bible to remind me of what my Messiah and Savior did for me. I gazed through the tall branches into the sky and asked my Heavenly Abba if I could have just one. I looked down and there were two leaves.
When friends learned of my discovery I told them to ask the Lord for their treasure. They did, and He did. People were finding leaves everywhere on the sidewalk. Yes, the same sidewalk that had been leaf-free minutes earlier. No one saw them falling to the ground—they were just there.
A sweet little miracle, but it demonstrated to me how much God loves us and cares for us—even in the little things. More than anything, I want a reader to come away with that understanding when they read both my fiction or nonfiction.
Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?
Through the American Christian Fiction Writers organization I met two writers, Cathy Gohlke and Carrie Turansky who have become very dear friends. We try to get together 2-3 times per year for a writers’ retreat. Over the years we’ve learned when to give each other space and when to encourage each other to share our burdens. It’s been a blessing.
Since I resigned from my position as director of domestic operations and development for the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, I have more time for introspection and relationship-building with the Lord. My favorite location? The kitchen breakfast bar. I perch on my favorite stool with a cup of coffee and study the word, pray, and just be. I can look out the sliders to the backyard and watch and listen to the birds. Very pastoral, very centering.
I just realized something, our house is next to a 100-year-old stone wall. It seems I’m still praying next to walls.
Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)
I had the honor and privilege of overseeing the copy edits of the Old Testament for a brand new Bible translation, the Tree of Life Version (TLV). The TLV is a Genesis to Revelation, word-for-word translation from the original Hebrew and Greek by a team of sixty scholars—Messianic Jews and Christians—from around the world. Through that process I’ve developed an even greater love for the Word.
An obscure passage that came alive during that process was Genesis 48:19. Jacob had asked Joseph to bring his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim so that Jacob might bless them. Jacob did so much more—he adopted them as his sons. Any children Joseph would have would be Joseph’s, but these two sons were Jacob’s.
That’s was significant.
Then Jacob did the cross hand blessing—he blessed Ephraim as the first-born, instead of Manasseh, who was the rightful first-born. When Joseph questioned his father, Jacob said:
“But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know.
He also will become a people and he also will become great.
But his younger brother will become greater than he and his seed will be the fullness of the nations.’”
It was a worshipful, gratitude moment when I read that.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Right now I’m working on book two of The Hair Mavens series, CUT IT OUT. The mavens—Shira,
Harriet, Beulah, and Katya—are learning what it means to be a team and more importantly a community of believers that step outside themselves. One of the characters—possibly two—will come to faith in this book. And one of the mavens will get married.
I had outlined this book three years ago, but it has taken a different direction in some regards. It’s been interesting, the mavens decided they needed two extra characters—both polar opposites, of course.
I finished the first draft October 12th. Then, on to the revisions. Watch for the release date.
Still waiting to hear back from a publisher who had asked for my children’s series.
Thanks so much, Terri, for joining us. Very interesting interview!
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Terri Gillespie is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, and speaker. She is head writer for the Restoration of Israel Minute heard on 25 stations in 11 states and Canada, has contributed to several other books, magazines, newspapers and published her first book, Making Eye Contact with God—A Weekly Devotional for Women. Her first novel—The Hair Mavens: She Does Good Hair—won BWB’s Lyra Best Women’s Fiction for 2013.
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TERRI is giving away a copy of MAKING EYE CONTACT with GOD. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.