Let’s Slow Down Before We Shut Down

Our role is not straining; it's remaining. That truth is what replaces the fear that tempts us to run, run, run. http://holleygerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

Here’s a little confession: When I’m under pressure I can act like a hamster on a wheel. I run, run, run because it feels like the fear will catch me if I stop. And as long as I’m doing something – anything – then I can stay under the illusion that I’m in control. It will all work out if I just keep working becomes my motto.

Can you relate?

The other day I’d been pushing toward the finish line of a big project. A good project. An important project. A spiritual project. I sensed the gentle whisper of God inside my heart saying, “You’ve done enough for today, Holley. It’s time to rest.” But I insisted, “Just one more thing!”

That “one more thing” involved a change to my blog. I completed what needed to be done, hit “save”, leaned back in my chair…and watched as my entire site basically exploded. Yep. I couldn’t even get back in to fix anything.

I don’t think what happened was divine retribution but it was a timely reminder. As Ann Voskamp said, “Haste makes waste. The hurry makes us hurt.” God has been teaching me to live by a new rhythm–one of peace, rest and taking care of what matters most. But every once in awhile I relapse.

Thankfully, my web designer found a way to fix my blog. But that kind of striving can do more than break a site. It can break a life. I’ve lived that reality. And I’m not the only one. After another well-known pastor’s ministry recently imploded I found an article where a counselor explained what’s behind many of these scenarios. As a fellow counselor, I also think what’s below is part of the picture…

Someone feels called to do big things for God. They push and strive. They grow and succeed. Somewhere along the way the expectations become greater than their ability to meet them. But rather than stop they try harder. This leads to great pain. And when we are hurting, we seek something to soothe our souls–often beyond the boundaries of what God allows. And just like the click of a mouse, a decision is made that shuts down a once-thriving family, ministry, heart.

If you can relate at all, I’m begging you to listen to that gentle whisper saying, “That’s enough, my child. It’s time to rest.” You can spend a day (or a lifetime) building something only to see it disappear in a second. The only way we can truly create something that truly lasts is this…

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” {John 15:5}

Our role is not straining; it’s remaining. That truth is what replaces the fear that tempts us to run, run, run. This is our true security when the pressure comes: “Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” {Php. 1:6}. And when we dare to get off the hamster wheel, He will carry us too.

XOXO,

Holley Gerth

Books to encourage you…

Books by Holley Gerth
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Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

 

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

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Let’s All Be a Little Kinder to Each Other

Be kind: You can't see how far I've already come. - HolleyGerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

I pull on my tennis shoes, open the front door and begin to run. The sky stretches blue above me and the road feels firm beneath my feet. I stand tall with my shoulders straight and arms swinging rhythmically by my sides. I even feel a little cool in my shades.

By the end, things have changed. I’ve gone into what I like to call “T Rex” mode. My arms are bunched up under my chest like tiny little claws and my cadence has the grace of a dinosaur doing ballet. Yes, it really is as awkward as it sounds.

Cars whiz by and I worry about what they’re thinking. I didn’t mind other people bearing witness when I first began and felt strong. But now I want to shout, “Look away! Look away!” (And I might but I can’t breathe).

Even more, I want a t-shirt that says, “Be kind: You can’t see how far I’ve already come.”

Maybe the whole world needs t-shirts like that one. Because we’re all just trying to take the next steps as best we can. And while it can be easy to judge, we can’t see the hill she just conquered. We don’t know this is her third lap around the same struggle. We missed the miles she put in while the rain poured down.

Less criticism. More cheering.

Less assuming. More understanding.

Less gawking. More seeing the best.

I open the door of my house and practically collapse on the floor. My husband comes over to make sure he doesn’t need to call 911. “I made it,” I manage to gasp, “I’m home.” And suddenly that’s all that matters. I don’t care that I’m a mess. That I smell bad enough to scare the dog. That Nike would probably pay me not to ever wear their shoes.

The next time I run I notice a woman struggling up an incline one slow step at a time. I smile and give her a thumbs up sign. I get it. And I would want someone to do the same for me.

Until the whole world gets those t-shirts, let’s all be a little kinder anyway. We don’t know how far anyone has come. Or how far they have to go. And we don’t know when it might be our turn to climb that hill.

XOXO,

Holley Gerth

Books to encourage you…

Books by Holley Gerth
Would you like to subscribe by email?

****

Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

 

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

{click to tweet that you’re joining me here today}


When Saying “Yes” is Wearing You Out

Jesus can heal our souls and set us free. http://holleygerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

In my twenties I threw the word “yes” around like confetti:

“Sure, I’ll take on that commitment.”

“Absolutely, I’ll serve in that way.”

“Of course I’ll tackle that challenge!”

But all those answers turned my life into something that looked far different than a party. Because while I said “yes” on the outside, my heart was really saying…

“No, I’m exhausted and can’t carry anything else right now.”

“No, I’ll resent you if another item gets added to my to-do list.”

“No, this isn’t good for either of us because my gifts are in other areas.”

I thought by pushing past my true feelings I was being unselfish. In reality, I was slowly siding with the enemy of my soul. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matt. 5:37).

For years this verse made me scratch my head. But I finally realized this: when we say “yes” and really mean “no” there’s deception in it. And the devil “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). God does not want us to say “yes” when we mean “no” because it means we’re not living in the truth. In other words, we’re out of alignment with His character and Kingdom.

So what do we do? Our first option is simply saying “no.” Or if we’re absolutely certain this is something God wants us to do, we get our hearts to a place where we truly mean “yes” before we accept. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

It’s easy to blame everyone else for our tendency to say “yes” when we don’t mean it. But Susie Larson says in her book Your Sacred Yes, “Oftentimes our insecurities, unhealed areas, unbelief and wrong perspectives are what drive us to make hasty decisions and say yes to un-appointed things, more so than the external pressures of the crowd.”

I’ve been there and lived that more times than I’d like to admit. But I’ve also learned Jesus can heal our souls and set us free. He can teach us to say “yes” to Him first and then let everything else fall into place.

If you’re feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or resentful then it may be time to stop and pray, “Lord, what do you really want me to say ‘yes’ to in this season? And what have I placed on my shoulders that you never intended for me to carry?”

We serve a loving, kind Savior who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Whew. That’s one request our hearts can handle saying “yes” to every single day.

YourSacredYes-TP_cttXOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. I recommend Susie Larson’s book, Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion and Joy for more encouragement on this topic.

 

Why You Can Pursue Excellence and Skip Perfection

Excellence is simply doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are.

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

Whenever someone starts talking about how it’s okay not to be perfect, I can watch the women in the room begin to squirm (myself included).

Yes, we desperately want more grace and freedom in our lives. But we also have this fear that if we let ourselves off the hook, everything will just go to pieces. We won’t do a good job anymore. Our parenting will be halfhearted. Our work will be shabby. Our house will get a visit from the health inspector. So let’s get this clear right up front: not being perfect doesn’t mean you don’t work hard and try to do well.

We’re clearly told, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:23). We’re not to slack off, become lazy, or do less than what we can because of grace. Instead, God’s love and kindness become motivation for our hard work.

But we’re also not told, “Whatever you do, do it perfectly.” Working “with all your heart” simply means being intentional about what we do and doing it out of love. Pursuing excellence leads to joy and satisfaction. Pursuing perfection leads to burnout and frustration.

Excellence is simply doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are.

Let’s take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, release our grip on perfection, embrace grace and live with love–which the Apostle called “the most excellent way.” That really is enough for one day…and one wild, beautiful lifetime.

XOXO,

Holley Gerth

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You've Loved No Matter What

Seeing your pictures of You’re Loved No Matter What is so encouraging! Photo taken by Lander.

Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Giveaway and Optional Writing Prompt: For the next few weeks, the Wednesday posts are going to be about getting free from the pressure to be perfect. I’ll have an optional writing prompt for you about that topic. If you write about it, link up and include my new book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect in your post somewhere, you’ll be entered to win a God’s Heart for You necklace {U.S. residents only}. Thanks to DaySpring for providing the necklaces! Congratulations to Tasha for winning last week! If you don’t have a blog, you can share today’s post on Facebook, leave a comment here saying you did and answer the prompt in your comment.

The prompt for today was: Where does perfectionism sneak in and how can you replace it with gratitude?

Next Wednesday’s prompt is: What does ‘excellence’ mean or look like to you?

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

{Click to tweet that you’re joining me here today!}


Hope When Life Brings Rain

"In all things God works for the good of those who love him" {Rom. 8:28}

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

I step off the ferry and look around me in wonder. I’ve arrived on Bainbridge Island, a small community just across from Seattle, for a vacation with family. For years when I thought of this area I pictured rain, rain, rain. And until I saw it in person I missed what should have been obvious: All that rain leads to a lot of unexpected loveliness, life and growth.

Flowers surround every sidewalk, stretch up toward windowsills and turn backyards like my Great-Aunt Fern’s into kaleidoscopes of color. I saw this when we visited five years ago. And just like before what’s in front of me fills my heart with hope.

Hope when it rains. http://holleygerth.com/hope-rain/

Because I’m a woman who has known rain in her life. I imagine you have too. And we will again. So it’s a soul-strengthening comfort to know that not a single drop will be in vain. Because we serve a God who takes what falls in our life and mysteriously transforms it into glory.

I don’t know what life holds for you today. Maybe your sky is blue and sunny. Maybe thunder roars overhead and you’re soaked to the bones. But I do know what’s coming even if it doesn’t feel like it right now…

Unexpected loveliness.

Life.

Growth.

Hope when it rains. http://holleygerth.com/hope-rain/

Like a rainbow after the flood, every flower we see this time of year is like a promise that reminds us “In all things God works for the good of those who love him” {Rom. 8:28}. That doesn’t take the hurt away. He understands when our tears fall along with the rain. But He wants us to know the pain will not last forever.

There will be beauty again.

Heart Needs

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. Are you or someone you love going through a tough time? You’ll find daily encouragement in What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days.