Jesus Wants to Lighten Your Load Today

When we slow down, rest and let go it's beautiful as well as powerful because it says to a watching world: "Our Shepherd is good. And, yes, He can be trusted." http://holleygerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

“What’s your most important value?” the group leader asked one morning during a Significant Woman study I did years ago. When it was my turn to respond I declared, “Growth!” with great enthusiasm.

I wanted to grow in every way. Spiritually. Socially. Emotionally. Mentally. And I thought doing so meant saying “yes” to every opportunity that came along. Surely anything I did for God must be good, right?

As time went by I began to feel an inexplicable weariness. My initial reaction was to simply try harder. Surely if I just helped others more, spent additional time doing spiritual things and even increased my exercise routine — then I’d be reenergized. Instead it seemed the weight on my shoulders increased. I even began to have physical symptoms.

Unable to push myself any harder, I finally let Jesus take hold of my heart in a new way. For months it seemed as if He took layer after layer off my “growth.” I started saying “no” more often. I let go of commitments He’d never asked me to make. I released expectations and a chronic desire to please everyone. Whew. I felt so much lighter.

So I laughed out loud in recognition when I saw a story about a sheep who had sneakily avoiding shearing for six years. The farmer who captured Shaun the sheep said, “He couldn’t see very well because of the wool over his face, so I snuck up behind him and grabbed him.”

Shaun the Sheep photo via ABC News

Shaun the Sheep photo via ABC News

I’d lived like Shaun the sheep in my pursuit of endless growth. And my vision had become compromised, too. I couldn’t see that I was carrying far more than Jesus required. He called out to my weighed down, wandering heart, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). He set me free from what seemed “good” and gave me what was truly best…

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul. (Ps. 23:1-3)

There’s something I now value far more than growth: obedience.

If I could go back to the younger version of myself sitting in that study I would say this to her:

I know you want to do great things and you believe that’s what God desires from you, too. But only one thing is needed: staying close to your Shepherd. Let Him take care of you. Let Him lead you. You don’t have to prove your worth to Him by what you can produce. He loves you just as you are.

I want to whisper that to your heart today, too. (We’re in the same flock, after all.) 

When we slow down, rest and let go it’s beautiful as well as powerful because it says to a watching world: “Our Shepherd is good. And, yes, He can be trusted.”

XOXO

Holley Gerth

P.S. Looking for Graduation Gifts? You’re Already Amazing, You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dreams will encourage the graduates in your life!

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Beauty Comes from Broken Places

Growth is a process, not an event. #YoureLovedNoMatterWhat by @holleygerth http://holleygerth.com

There’s an old story about two pots. One was perfect in every way. The other had cracks and broken places. Each day a woman filled the pots with rainwater she collected and then carried them down the path to her home. The first pot felt proud that she never leaked a single drop. The other felt ashamed because no matter how hard she tried, she spilled a lot along the way.

One day the two pots overheard the woman talking with someone who lived nearby. The neighbor exclaimed, “The flowers along your path are so beautiful! What’s your secret?”

The woman answered, “One of my pots is broken, and the water that spills out helps the flowers grow every day.”

We think that we have to take what’s broken and make it perfect in order to be used by God and bless others. But God thinks in a completely different way. He took what was perfect, His Son, and made Him broken in order to bring us healing.

So if you’re sitting there wondering if God can use you because your life is not as it should be, and your heart is aching—know that your greatest hurt will probably be your greatest ministry. Like the disciple Thomas who doubted until he touched the scars of Jesus, some people in your life need to see your broken places more than your victories.

We’re all like the second pot in the story. God sees purpose in our brokenness even when we don’t, and He can use it to bring forth beauty that blesses those around us.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

From You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect

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JennTaylorYoureLovedNoMatterWhat

I love this picture taken by Jenn Taylor!

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 Asheritah Ciuciu 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: What truth do you need to be reminded of?

Next Wednesday’s prompt is: Where have you seen beauty from brokenness?

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!

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Healing Our Souls from Hurry

God isn't in a hurry. He never runs out of time because He has eternity. So do we. http://HolleyGerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

I sit on the back porch rocking in a chair and staring at the trees. It’s hard for me to be here in this place of stillness. My to-do list tugs at my mind, beckons me back inside, but I pull my knees closer to my chest and stay.

I watch birds find dinner at the feeder. A baby squirrel balances tentatively on a limb. The laughter of children drifts over the fence. The trees whisper “shhh, shhh” with their branches. And it seems they are speaking to the stream of thoughts running endlessly through my mind.

I think of the first Psalm where a person who walks closely with God is described as being “like a tree planted by the rivers of water…that brings forth fruit in its season.”

Fruit in its season. 

That phrase feels awkward to me. It’s not instant or immediate. It implies waiting and patience. It doesn’t fit in our fast-paced, get-it-done, make-every-second count world. But as I stare at the trees I’m reminded of how we’re created to live. We need silence and stillness because it’s in those moments that growth happens.

Fruit in its season.

I think of the blueberries now ready just down the road. I wait all year for those berries. And they taste so much sweeter because of the wait. God isn’t in a hurry. He never runs out of time because He has eternity. So do we. And God doesn’t need me to make five, fifteen, or forty more bushels. The expectations I place on myself are more mine than His.

As Ann Voskamp says, “Haste makes waste. The hurry makes us hurt.

I seem to hear another whisper as I sit on the porch. This time it comes not from the branches of the trees but from within my heart. The One Who Loves Me whispers “Shhh, shhh.” It sounds like an invitation that could heal my soul. And this time I listen, embracing the new stillness in and around me.

There will be time for fruit tomorrow, or the next day…whenever the season is right.

I hope you have a restful weekend, friend.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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God Won’t Hurry Our Hearts

God will not rush your healing. And God will not rush your growth. http://HolleyGerth.com

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

I stare out the window into the backyard. From my breakfast table I can see a robin fluffing out her feathers. The trees reach up to the sky with new leaves that wave good morning. A chubby squirrel gathers a few acorns to save for later. As I look, I realize the pace beyond my windows is so different than the one within them. We, as humans, are tempted to hurry. And yet it seems God is intent on slowing us down.

He gives us a Sabbath and we work through the weekend.

He gives us three meals a day to let us slow down and we pick fast food.

He gives us eight hours of sleep a night and we try to squeak by on far less.

We hurry when we’re afraid that we’ll be late, miss out on something, or disappoint someone. God doesn’t need to hurry because He has all the time in eternity. This is good news for us, friends. It means…

God will not rush your healing.

And God will not rush your growth.

God is okay with where you are right now. He’s not tapping His toe impatiently. He’s not looking at His watch with a sigh. He’s not trying to get you out the door a few minutes sooner. The God who loves you is willing to give you the time you need. All of time belongs to Him and He is generous with it. He gives it freely to fluffy birds and budding trees and chubby squirrels.

And He’ll give it to your heart–as much as you need.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

* this post was also featured on (in)courage *

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Get Back Up and Try Again

It's time to start living fully instead of just trying not to fail. http://holleygerth.com #YoureLovedNoMatterWhat

Gymnasts practice their routines over and over again. By the time they get to the world competition level, their performances are expected to be flawless. Yet Shawn Johnson hit what could have been a serious snag in her career at an important moment. She says in Winning Balance, “That day when I went up for the beam, I fell twice in the same routine. This, of course, is unheard of. If you fall, you fall. But normally you don’t fall twice . . . especially in the event finals.”

Devastated and with more of the competition to go, Shawn walked back into the training gym to talk with her coach, Chow. He said, “Mistakes are mistakes. . . . Something was simply off.” Then he added, “You know, things happen. Mistakes happen. But it’s time to pick yourself up. You have another event.”

Shawn Johnson took her coach’s words to heart and went on to finish competing that day. She eventually became an Olympic gold medalist. Her coach understood this: without mistakes, we don’t get better. Shawn didn’t intentionally sabotage her routine. She wasn’t being rebellious. She was simply being human. There’s a distinct difference between a mistake and a sin.

Mistakes help us learn.

Sin is a choice we deliberately make even though we know better.

Mistakes are done with innocence.

Sin comes from a heart that holds rebellion.

Mistakes lead to growth.

Sin leads to decay.

Not only will you make mistakes, you must make mistakes. That’s the way babies learn to walk, kids find out how to ride bikes, and grown-ups figure out how to find their way in the world.

As Shawn Johnson learned, the only way to stand tall is to accept that sometimes you will fall. When you make mistakes, God doesn’t condemn you. He says what Shawn’s coach did: “Pick yourself up. You have another event.” You will hear that over and over until you’re home in heaven.

But sometimes we don’t do what Shawn did. Instead we say, “I totally ruined everything. I’ve let down the people who loved and invested in me. I didn’t meet the expectations. I’m not living up to my potential. In order to keep from being a further disappointment, I’m stepping out of the arena altogether.” Then we live safe, mediocre lives and breathe big sighs of relief because while we’re not doing anything really great, at least we’re not failing.

Listen, friend, that kind of thinking doesn’t come from your heavenly Father. It comes from the enemy of your soul who would love nothing more than to see you stop using your gifts, strengths, and skills to make a difference in the world.

Because here’s the secret: in the kingdom of God, as long as you’re still fighting, you’re winning. God doesn’t hand out medals for performance. He hands out crowns for perseverance. The Olympics began in ancient Rome, and it’s likely the apostle Paul had them in mind when he said, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:25).

Practice doesn’t make perfect, because that’s impossible this side of heaven. Practice makes a person who will try again, and that’s what God desires. No matter how far or how often you’ve fallen, you can still get back up today. Can your heart hear the cheers as you do?

XOXO

Holley Gerth

From You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to be Perfect

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photo by my friend at Hiking Toward Home

photo by my friend at Hiking Toward Home

*****

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 Nicole Blean 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: What’s one thing that helps you say “no” to what’s good so you can say “yes” to God’s best?

Next Wednesday’s prompt is: Who has inspired you because of their perseverance?

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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