Finding the Hope in Your Dark Moments…

Diamond Mine by Holley Gerth

necklace by Premier Designs

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“Count it all joy when you meet trials of many kinds.” {James 1:2}

I shake my head a bit at the words above and think, “I’m not so sure I wanna do that right now.” Normally I would have been tempted to skip to a friendlier, easier verse {I’m sure I’m the only one who does that}.

But I’d been invited by Premier Designs to speak on exactly this topic. And deep down inside, I knew I needed to figure out how to “count it all joy” for my own sake too. After all, I’ve been in a season of loss lately.

So I looked closer and prayed, “God, can you please help me understand what this means? I know you’re compassionate and you’re not telling me to just plaster a fake smile on my face. After all, Jesus wept with us when he was here. But I’m gonna be honest–I don’t get it.”

As I continued to pray and considered the passage more, I realized when we count something it means we’re intentionally recognizing the worth in it. And when we count something as joy, we’re saying there’s not only worth but also even something good.

Those thoughts brought up a memory of another challenging time in my life. I’d been through several losses and felt utterly discouraged. One day I prayed, “Lord, I feel like I’m in a deep, dark cave right now.” Of course, I didn’t hear an audible response, but He did impress on my heart, “You may be in a cave but you have a choice: You can sit in the dark or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.”

I decided then and there I wasn’t leaving that cave in my life empty-handed. I was going to take every blessing I could find with me. There were still many days when all I did was sit on the floor of the cave and grieve but I also walked away from that time in my life with treasures I never would have found otherwise.

I can hold those diamonds now and count them each as a joy. Yes, count them all joy.

Do I want to go back to that cave? No, ma’am.

But do I see the worth in it now? Oh, yes.

I’m discovering “counting it all joy” isn’t a one-time thing. It’s more of a process and a promise. It’s something we’ll be learning to do until we step into heaven where all the darkness is finally gone. Until then, we can know that with our God nothing is ever worthless. It all counts even more than we can see right now. And that hope can light the way to treasures we never imagined we could find in our hard times.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. I’m speaking to over 6,000 wonderful folks from Premier Designs today and would appreciate your prayers! The necklace in the photo above is one of their beautiful pieces of jewelry.

Happy Heavenly Father’s Day to My Poppi, Hollie Brookshire

poppi

He called me “H.E” (short for “Holley Ellen” because we shared the same first name). We shared so much more too–a love of words, the gift of encouragement, a fondness for coffee and dessert.

My Grandpa, Hollie Brookshire, came into this world on a cold December morning close to Christmas. And he slipped Home just as Father’s Day began this weekend.

He’d been battling cancer and my husband and I curled up in chairs in his room watching the in-out-of his breath. I leaned my head against his pillow because we’ve always napped side-by-side on the couch. Then I flipped open my iPhone and scrolled through pictures of us together. At the beach. At the holidays. At breakfast–a tradition of ours for twenty years.

Breakfast with Poppi

And as I did so, peace swept over me. My heart felt full and satisfied the way you do after a good, full meal. The room filled with something holy and happy. The phrase “inexpressible joy” popped into my head. So I looked it up in Scripture…

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

My Grandpa loved God’s Word. He handed out thousands of Gideon Bibles during this lifetime. He even made sure his shirt always had a little pocket on the front so he could have one ready. I watched him hand them over to waitresses and clerks, nurses and new acquaintances. He had a way of making people fall in love with him…and in love with the God he loved.

Poppi & Bibles

After I read the Scripture and felt the joy and peace settle in, I told my husband, “I think we can go get a few hours sleep. He’s okay and he’ll be here tomorrow.” Just as we got up, the nurse from the previous shift came in even though he was supposed to be off an hour and a half earlier. For what seemed like no reason at all he said, “I think you should stay.”

So we went to the car to get pillows and prayed for my Grandpa under a wide, starry Texas sky. When we came back in, we stood by his side and told him how much we loved him, how proud we were of him. And in a few breaths, he went Home. I laid my hand on his chest and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I imagined Jesus saying just the same on the other side and then adding, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

It felt like holy ground, like sacred space, like a place to mourn and dance all at once.

So many gifts…that we came this weekend instead of next week, that he whispered my name earlier that day, that the peace and joy came in first like a welcome Home committee, that the nurse told us to stay.

Do I mourn? Oh, yes. But do I do so without hope? No, not for a moment.

You would have liked Hollie Brookshire too. How do I know? Everyone did. He said that secret to living a long time was three hugs a day. And at 93 he should know. He still lived at home and attended church as well as speaking for the Gideons.

He spent his life sharing the Word of life. And it was in the back of his Christian bookstore that I felt the calling to be a writer. I think for the rest of my life when I have a pen in my hand or a keyboard in front of me, I’ll feel him smiling over my shoulder. If you’ve ever been blessed by anything I’ve written, you have Hollie Brookshire to thank. My latest book, You’re Going to Be Okay, is dedicated to him and the whole last chapter is about him.

Poppi & Holley

He called me “H.E.” I called him Poppi, hero, friend. And when I go Home, I hope his voice is one of the first I hear calling my name. We’ll split a piece of heavenly pie and drink coffee and talk about how good God is. Always. And it might just take forever to name all the ways…

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. If you’d like to celebrate my Grandpa Hollie, you can do so by donating a Gideon Bible in his honor.

You Don’t Have to Try So Hard Today

Be Held by Holley Gerth

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Dear You,

You don’t have to try so hard. I know sometimes you think you do. There’s a place inside that worries that if you let up for even just a little while, it may all fall apart—you may fall apart. But here’s the secret: you don’t have to hold yourself, your life, this world together. That’s far too much for any of us.

Instead of holding it all together, can you let yourself be held by the One who loves you? He’s the One who told the weary to come to him. He’s the One who tells us it’s okay to lay our burdens down. He’s the One who invites us to a life not of perfectionism but of peace.

He doesn’t require as much of you as you believe. It feels like he does because so many people have told you it’s true. But our God is not a taskmaster. Instead he’s a loving Father, and he wants his children to rest. Children are not meant to worry and work all the time. They’re meant to receive.

What do you need from God right now? Slow down for a moment and tell him. Whisper the tiredness you feel. Tell him about your frustration. Put words to your suspicion that it’s all too much and you’re not enough.

Then listen for God’s voice in return. Let him reassure you that he’s got you and he’s never letting go. Let him share with you that you are not responsible for results, only obedience. Let him free you from what weighs you down and instead lift you up with love.

You don’t have to try so hard, get so far, run so fast. You only have to reach up to the One who promises to carry you like a daughter in his arms. All the way home.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

(inspired by Deut. 1:31; Matt. 11:29–30; 1 John 3:1)and adapted from If We Could Have Coffee…{ebook})

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

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