Book chronicles pastor's life
Gloria Gillaspie had a thought that her many life experiences and tribulations may make for an interesting read, but never seemed to get around to telling the story.
"I began working toward this 15 years ago," she said.
It wasn't until a significant health event in Gillaspie's life that she "got real serious about it."
"You begin to worry you may not have a tomorrow to finish your work," she said.
Gillaspie has released "Arise! Shine!: For Your Light Is Come and The Glory of The Lord Is Risen Upon You," a book chronicling what she explains as unbelievable, but factual, miraculous tales of her life and times, and a few fun stories she promises will entertain. Gillaspie wrote the book with Max Glossup of Burleson.
"It all begins by telling my story from a child growing up in Burleson and how it was then," Gillaspie said.
She's a direct decedent of Henry C. Renfro, a prominent early Texas minister and the man who named the town of Burleson for his friend and Baylor University president Rufus C. Burleson.
The book retells the story that her doctor had believed Gillaspie's son, Stuart, today a longtime member of City Council, was dead in the womb because he could find no heartbeat for a month during the pregnancy.
"Through prayer, he was resurrected," Gillaspie said.
Her son, Otis, was not expected to live through a ruptured appendix and her daughter, Richelle Smithee, was not able to walk because of a birth defect in her ankles.
"They were both miraculously healed," she said.
At a retirement reception from ministry in Gillaspie's honor, Stuart shared a family story most had never heard concerning his mother once being the Texas Chicken Queen.
"There's a picture of me with the crown and the big trophy in the book," Gillaspie said. "The chicken industry was very big in the 50s. You couldn't hardly go anywhere in Burleson without seeing a broiler house. The local poultry growers picked me to represent them."
She continues to teach two weekly Bible studies and occasionally delivers pastoral messages at OpenDoor Church services, formerly the location of the Lighthouse Church she pastored for decades.
"There was so much I wanted to put into this book that I left out because it would be too long," Gillaspie said. "I wanted people to read it. I think about a second book all the time."
The intent in releasing the book is to tell some stories many in Burleson may remember, but with which they may relate and draw some personal strength. Any of the stories would make the subject of a movie, she said.
"I want it to build people's faith. In spite of trials, problems and persecutions for your faith, you can have victory," Gillaspie said. "You can believe God will do the impossible."
Such as the time her growing church was to open a new facility, but could not get power.
"A mysterious man, who we ended up saying had to be an angel, showed up and got us electricity," Gillaspie said. "Les Todd, who worked at the power company, said he didn't know who the man was."
She admits some of the stories may appear "crazy," except through the lens of faith.
"There's such a variety of stories told with God working in all areas of my life," Gillaspie said. "I have heard of several people being so inspired that they were healed by simply reading it. I feel so blessed, because that's what I had hoped it would do. The stories really aren't about me, but are my way of sharing the message of God. He has been really good to me and my family."
Gillaspie is known beyond the borders of Burleson for more than just being a Texas Chicken Queen. She spoke in front of the State Board of Education at their request to address education curriculum, has appeared on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, has guest hosted shows on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar, including hosting her own program on the network for a short period.
The book is available through BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com, most bookstores, at OpenDoor Church's bookstore, and will be available at the next quarterly luncheon of the Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce.