What You Can Do with that Gift You Didn’t Want

Gift by Droid Gingerbread

You look at the pretty package in front of you. You undo the bow with care. You lift the lid with anticipation and…

It’s a neon orange reindeer sweater with blinking antlers!

Yessss. Just what you always wanted. Or not. Ladies, we know what to do when this happens to us. We return, regift, repurpose. But when it comes to the words our hearts get from others we’re not quite as quick to do so. So let’s change that this Christmas and new year.

Picture this: You look around the room and see familiar faces. You walk into a conversation with care. You open your ears with anticipation and…

Words are directed at you from someone that are not what you wanted at all.

Maybe they’re said with good intentions. Or maybe they’re spoken to intentionally get to you. Maybe they just sound like they should have been said to someone else. No matter the motive, we still tend to receive those words and carry them around in our hearts. But, Friends, words are gifts too and just like the reindeer sweater you can choose what you do with them:

Regift: Maybe the words offered you an opportunity that just isn’t a fit for you but someone else would love. Just think, “My friend loves orange and taking care of thousands of two year olds. I can tell her about volunteering in the nursery and the kids will love this sweather.”

Repurpose: Those words might have been intended as a back-handed criticism but you can get your creative self in gear and switch them around. Great Aunt Sandra says, “I knitted this in orange for you because it reminds me of that time you spent in prison.” And you twist that right around and say, “God has brought me a long way! Woo-hoo!” And then you cut that sweater into a million pieces and make it into a wreath.

Return: Some words do not even deserve a place in your life for a minute. So you can just picture yourself marching them back to the counter of where that person probably got them {um, the devil}. Tell your heart, “You do not have to accept that today.” Then give yourself some truth instead.

You may not be able to control what you’re given in life. But you can decide what your heart will keep. And that makes all the difference. The reindeer sweater doesn’t have to gather dust in the corner of your closet for the next ten years. And the words others try to give you don’t have to hang around in the corners of your heart either. No, ma’am.

Give encouraging words.

Receive encouraging words.

And no matter how much you’re tempted…no neon orange reindeer sweaters this year.



Holley Gerth

photo by Droid Gingerbread

You Can Grow No Matter What

Branch Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Gary Oliver knows what it’s like to face hard times. In the past few years he has lost his wife to cancer, his son to a tragedy, and personally battled cancer several times. So when he stands in front of a group to speak, people listen. When he does open his mouth to share with the audience he talks not about his troubles but about finding the joy in them. Remarkable.

And then he says something that makes me want to stand up and cheer: “Growth is God’s love language.”

So if you’re not sure what to do about whatever you’re facing today, just find one small way to help growth happen in your life. Let your faith get a little bigger. Your heart a little stronger. Your mind a little wiser. Your relationships a little deeper. Your joy a little more resilient.

Because when you choose growth, you choose life. You say, “I’m not giving in or giving up.” You take back what the enemy of your heart tries to steal from you. What matters most is not that you keep going but that you keep growing.

Bit by bit. Little by little.

Gary freely admits that he’s had many tough days and shed many tears along his journey. But somehow he’s turned those tears into something that waters what God is growing in his life. And with all he’s been through, that gives me hope that the rest of us can too.


Holley Gerth


p.s. You can hear Gary’s message here. 80% of his tongue was removed because of cancer and replaced with tissue from his leg. The doctors told him he would never speak again. Well, he and God proved them wrong. :)

Be Happier and Healthier: Train Your Brain

photo by dogwood_springs_photography

photo by dogwood_springs_photography

Confession: I’m a bit of a brain science junkie. I love seeing the amazing ways God has put us together and our minds are the most remarkable of all. Scientists used to have a theory that went like this: Once you’re an adult, your brain is done growing and changing. New research has proven that simply isn’t true. As long as we’re alive, our brains have the ability to continue to adapt. But here’s the catch: just like you work your body, you gotta work your brain.

Here are five of my favorite ways to train your brain…

- Take risks. Yep, at the edge of your comfort zone is where new brain pathways develop. Even if it’s as simple as driving a different way home from work, your mind needs novel experiences.

- Learn something new every day. Reading, doing word puzzles, and other mental challenges have been shown to keep our brains sharper as we age and also help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s.

- Sleep. When you rest, it’s serious work time for your brain. While you’re not consciously aware of it, your brain is completing important tasks like converting experiences into memories and organizing thoughts.

- Stay calm. Stress flips your brain into panic mode but the flight or fight response is intended to be an emergency only system. Using it when it’s not truly needed is destructive to our minds and bodies.

- Socialize. Our brains are created for connection. We grow mentally and emotionally as human beings through relationships with other people.

It’s easy to do the same things over and over, sit in front of the TV or choose to stick to ourselves. But a healthy, happy, thriving brain needs our help–especially as we get older. As you think about how to take care of your body, don’t forget your brain too. It will show its gratitude in all kinds of wonderful ways like increasing your happiness, helping you figure out solutions to life’s problems, and keeping you alert and engaged for a lifetime.

Now that’s something to think about.


Holley Gerth

31 Days to a Happier You