Gigi Murfitt is an author, a speaker, and a lover of God’s Word. She grew up with nine siblings in a single parent home. Although they were a church going family, Gigi’s faith grew deeper after the birth of her son Gabriel, who was born with a number of physical challenges.
Gabe and Gigi have co-authored a new book, which was released in April. My Message Is C.L.E.A.R. – Hope and Strength in the Face of Life’s Greatest Adversities details Gabe’s story and offers five “clear” steps to living with hope.
Gigi is President of the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association, a member of the Northwest Christian Speaker’s Connection, and an apprentice with The Christian Writer’s Guild. She and her husband, Steve, raised two sons, Zane and Gabe, and live in western Washington.
How did you get started on your writing journey?
My mom was an English teacher so writing has always been of interest to me. I have been recording the story of my day in a journal since I was fifteen years old. I wish I could say I wrote every day or even every year, but there are holes in my recorded story. A few years ago I went back to try to recapture those lost stories in my journal. It was a healing time for me.
I started taking writing classes at a local community college about ten years ago and published my first article in a newspaper in December 2006. I really enjoy writing, whether in my journal, for publication, or a note to a friend in a card or email.
From 2004 to 2007, I participated in the Seattle Ministry Institute where we wrote a paper or two per week during our ministry training. For my final project, I outlined my memoir. It was my goal to publish a book. I am pleased that since that goal was set I have now published two books (Caregivers’ Devotions to Go, 2010, and My Message is C.L.E.A.R., 2012). I also had stories in two Guideposts books and published several articles.
How does your faith play into your work?
I write my prayers in my journal. I also enjoy writing articles and stories that glorify God. One of my goals is to make Jesus famous in my writing and speaking.
My first published book is a pocket-sized devotional containing thirty stories from my life as a caregiver. Each story begins with Scripture and ends with a prayer and an activity.
In My Message Is C.L.E.A.R., we share how our faith has been a significant part of our journey.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
I’ve found myself on many life detours over the years. There were times when I was going full speed ahead and landed in the ditch on several occasions. Sometimes I came out of it with scrapes and bruises from the poor choices I had made. But God has always been faithful to lead me to the destination He intended all along.
I was driving down the road of motherhood with my GPS set for my planned destination to the street named Big Family. I’m one of ten children (raised Irish Catholic) and had hoped to raise at least three or four of my own.
I was over-the-top excited when I found out I was pregnant a little over a year after we were married. My joy was complete when my son, Zane, made us a family off three. I was cruising down the freeway of happiness and life was good.
Two years later, when I found out I was pregnant again, I was delighted. My husband, Steve, was nervous because we were still renting our home and had not paid off our debt. I knew it would all work out. God had proved faithful in my years growing up with a single mom raising ten children.
I felt fabulous during my pregnancy and had not hit any road bumps along the way. I was convinced I was having a girl but I knew either way things would be great. I counted the days until my due date when our baby would make us a family of four.
On that day, my life took a major detour. I found myself on a dark road without clear direction for the next turn. My son Gabe was born missing the radius and ulna bones in his arms. His tiny hands poked out of each shoulder. His crooked legs were fused at the knee. His ear canals were closed.
Where were the signs on the road I expected? Had I missed the exit? Could I turn around? Where was God leading me now?
I will say that this detour has taken me on many roads I never dreamed I would travel. But it has been worth the ride. I’ve grown closer to the Lord while recalibrating the plan for each day by spending time with Him. No longer do I rely on MY plan. I seek His direction every day in order to stay out of the ditch my own plan often leads to.
Gabe’s life story is a message of hope. When life isn’t what was expected and you find yourself in unfamiliar territory where your future is blurry, God’s word is CLEAR with instruction on how to get back on track.
Gabe started speaking at school assemblies when he was in the seventh grade. He shares an encouraging message reminding his audience that every life matters. He speaks about his successful strategy for life using the letters in the word C.L.E.A.R. Many times after Gabe shared his story, students or parents asked if we had a book about his life to share with their friends or family who were not able to hear him speak.
It was then that I started writing down the stories he shared with his audiences. Other stories were taken from my journals and conversations with Gabe over the years. Our friend, Cheryl Penn, interviewed Gabe on video which helped me write with his voice. As I wrote the stories, Gabe made suggestions, even cutting several stories out of the book. It was truly a collaborative effort that spanned a couple of years.
Our goal is that My Message Is C.L.E.A.R. – Hope and Strength in the Face of Life’s Greatest Adversities will provide hope and encouragement to people of all ages as they read the roller-coaster ride of Gabe’s triumphant life. It is our desire to help others live with tools from each word in Gabe’s message. The reader will discover how you can have:
• Courage to face life’s challenges
• Leadership that is encouraging and compassionate
• Endurance in hard times
• Attitude that enables you to achieve your goals
• Respect for others and self
This book has reached people of all ages and helped them seek to live C.L.E.A.R.
What do you most hope readers will take away from it?
We want people to be inspired by Gabe’s story. But moreover, we hope the reader will see that Gabe has been able to do all things through Christ who gives him strength. I believe the chapter on endurance is the most powerful part of Gabe’s message. We live in a time and season where people need encouragement to endure through the challenging times. My Message Is C.L.E.A.R. will provide encouragement to thrive rather than just survive.
Please tell us about Gabe’s Hope Foundation.
When Gabe was fifteen months old, the doctors at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital recommended we purchase an electric wheelchair to enable him to become more mobile and increase his ability to interact with others. We were shocked at the $18,000 price tag of the chair. Fear set in when our insurance company refused to pay for these wheels, stating that a push chair would work just as well.
Friends and family came alongside us and raised the money to pay for Gabe’s chair. When the insurance company chose to pay a portion of it, we had enough money left over to buy a used van. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people that we determined that one day we would pay-it-forward.
Gabriel’s Foundation of HOPE is our means to do just that. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity established to help individuals and families who deal with disability by encouraging them to persevere with hope and overcome their challenges.
You’ve said that your faith grew deeper, your relationship with Christ stronger after Gabe’s birth. Can you elaborate on that?
For two years after Gabe was born I found myself too busy to connect with a church in the town we had moved to. My relationship with God was not a priority but my heart longed for that connection.
Diane Newman, the woman who started the trust fund to help purchase Gabe’s wheelchair, invited my husband and I to her church. It was very different than the Catholic Church I had loved in my youth. But there was a presence of God I had never felt before. The music touched the deepest wounds in my soul. The people were friendly. The pastor taught rich lessons from the Bible every Sunday. We started attending regularly.
We immediately connected with a small group of believers who met every week to encourage each other in the faith. I found treasures in Scripture that jumped off the page at me. I wondered why I had not seen these words of wisdom before.
I finished several Beth Moore Bible studies and I was hooked on seeking the Bible for everything and relying on Christ’s love for my every need. I realized that Gabe’s situation was not God’s punishment for me or Steve. I found mercy and grace and healing every step of the way.
Now as I look back, I don’t know if I would have made it without the incredible love of Christ in my life. I had tried too long to do it all on my own. Living for Christ is just so much better.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Starbucks Chai Tea Latte is my favorite treat. I write in a Starbucks near the University of Washington on Wednesday nights while Gabe is at his college youth group.
Anything chocolate works too, especially Hershey’s KISSES.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I learned to play the guitar when I was in the seventh grade. I often dreamed of having a band with my six sisters. But I don’t play the guitar anymore. Sometimes I’ll pick it up and I’m surprised I remember how to play it.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I would be a love song that sings of hope and joy and never-ending love.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I consider myself the girl next door. I hope to be friendly and speak a kind word to those I meet. Encouragement is one of the gifts God has given me. I imagine the girl next door taking the hand of her neighbor and showing her the way to Jesus.
I’d love to hear more about Ruth, Gabe’s canine companion. Are there other pets in your family?
Ruth was given to Gabe in August of 2009 by Canine Companions for Independence. She is one-quarter golden retriever and three-quarters black lab. She knows fifty commands that help make Gabe’s life easier. She turns lights on and off, opens doors, and picks up things he drops.
But most importantly, she is a friend for Gabe. He will never have another lonely Friday night because of Ruth. People are willing to approach Gabe because Ruth breaks the barrier. More people come up to talk to Gabe because they first ask about Ruth.
We have another pet, a yellow Labrador named Donovan. He is wild and fun and gets along well with Ruth.
Thank you, Gigi. It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you, Kathy, for the opportunity to share our story. God bless your heart.
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To purchase My Message Is C.L.E.A.R. from Gabriel’s Foundation of HOPE, logon to http://gabeshope.org/donate/order-books/, or you can buy it at select retail outlets.
Note from Gigi: Proceeds from the sale of My Message Is C.L.E.A.R. help us fulfill the mission of Gabriel’s Foundation of HOPE to change lives of people living with disability by helping them overcome and preserve through their challenges, by encouraging them to never lose HOPE.
HOPE stands for: Help • Overcome • Persevere • Encourage