DaySpring

My DaySpring Story: Part 5

My DaySpring Story: Part 5

(To start from Part One click here. And if you can't see the images click here.) 

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Snowflake Set by DaySpring

Congratulations to Dawn for winning the Christmas set giveaway! If you still want the set or anything else I've talked about in this series you can find it on DaySpring.com and get 20% off with my friends and family code. (holley20)_____________________________________________________________________

 

And now for the rest of the story…

For several years I spent most of my time at DaySpring on cards and gift items.

Blessings Unlimited I also got to be editorial director for Blessings Unlimited, a direct-to-consumer division of DaySpring (think Pampered Chef or Mary Kay).

We'd meet as a team to brainstorm, pray, and ask God for new creative ideas. He always answered and this beautiful catalog is an example.

I love working with Blessings Unlimited!

Then a year or so ago God began nudging my heart in new directions. At first I didn't know what it meant. I just had a vague sense that I wanted to be closer to something, someone. And then one day I realized it was YOU.

As I explored the social media world more, a dream began forming in my heart for a community of women online that was about every part of usspiritual, emotional, social, and even practical! I began talking about this possibility with other women and found they shared this dream too. In particular, my coworkers Stephanie and Lainie also felt a passion for a new way to build a relationship with you.

Over the next year we spent hours talking about what this meant, praying about what God had in store, and moving in that direction without even knowing where we were going exactly.

All of that eventually became a new site called (in)courage. I hope you'll take a moment to read the whole story here.

Incourage-button

(in)courage was never a corporate initiative. It was a calling.

And it has become an amazing God-sized adventure that has knocked my socks off.

(in)courage has convinced me that God can and does do the impossible.

Come closer, and I'll whisper to you why that's true. In less than three months, we've had well over 100,000 unique visitors to the site from almost 170 countries. Our page views are on track to hit half a million this week.

And, y'all, I just don't think that happens without Jesus.

We have a team of almost thirty amazing women who write and create products for the site. They are the heart of what we do and I'm honored to know and work with each of them. You can get to know them here.

That's the latest chapter in my God-story with DaySpring. I'm so thankful that you let me share all of it with you. If you take anything away from it I pray it's this…

If God can use me then He can (and does) use you. And there is nothing that can get in the way of His plans. It doesn't matter what anyone saysnot a publisher, not people, not the pulpitGod is the author of your story and He gets to write the ending. Period. There is no mistake too great, no weakness too big for Him to overcome, no obstacle too complicated for Him to get around.

Find out what He created you to do and then do it. You + God are unstoppable.

I wrote this piece for Blessings Unlimited and I'd like to close this series with it because it expresses my heart for you…

You are a woman of strength—
more than a conqueror,
able to do all things,
a warrior and princess
in the Kingdom of God.
You are called to fight,
to minister, to pray,
to change the world.
The Lord has given you
all you need
and made you
all you need to be
for victory. 
So go forth, strong sister,
With a smile on your face,
a heart full of hope,
and a determination
to never stop until
you receive every
blessing God has for you.

I can do everything through Him
who gives me strength.
PHILIPPIANS 4:13 NIV

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My DaySpring Story: Part 4

My DaySpring Story: Part 4

(To start from Part One click here. And if you can't see the images click here.) 

First of all, thank you for letting me share my story! I've never done so before and it's been fun, humbling, and a little bit scary. I'm amazed that you're not only reading but leaving kind comments too! I'd hug you all if you were here.

Explaining everything I worked on at DaySpring during the first few years is a bit like trying to describe a kaleidoscope so I'd love to just share a few of my favorite projects with you…

Big Yellow Umbrella card by Holley Gerth for DaySpring

 

 

I wish I had a big yellow umbrella
that would keep away all the rain
in your life. I would hold it over your head, and the drops would splash, splash, and you would never even feel it. But I don’t have a big yellow umbrella – so I’ll walk through the rain with you.

The card above began as an e-mail to my friend Heather on a tough day. She was a designer at DaySpring and it became the starting point for a summer line called Heather and Holley in stores several years ago.

Then this new version of it came in 2008 and won Card of the Year at the Louie Awards (the greeting card equivalent of the Oscars) in New York City!

I love that card because while most of my cards start with an assignment, it simply came from the heart in a moment of need for a friend.

I've helped create card lines for stores like LifeWayFamily Christian, Hallmark, Wal-mart, and a variety of other places. Altogether I've written about 2000 cards!

Comfort and Encouragement booklet by Holley Gerth for DaySpring

I've also worked on other paper items like journals, calendars, and this Comfort and Encouragement booklet. It's a ministry guide for anyone who wants to help others through losses.

I wrote it during my counseling degree when I assisted with a grief support group. The name of each person in the group and the loved one they lost are in the front of the book. Sorrow is sacred ground and I'll always be grateful for those who let me walk and learn with them.

The Greatest Shepherd of All by Holley Gerth 
  
I even got to write three children's books with Thomas Nelson through a partnership! I love knowing that even if I don't have kids of my own yet, I can be part of building a heritage of faith in other families.

DaySpring also does gift items so some of my projects are things like ornaments, mugs, and home decor. Here's a little Christmas message that I wrote for card that became the inspiration for a gift line

Meaning of the Snowflake Mug - Holley Gerth for DaySpring The Meaning of the Snowflake
Every new snowflake comes to the earth
as a picture of our Saviour’s birth,
because they are sent from up above
and remind us of God’s care and love.
Each one is so intricate and small
because Christ sees the details of us all,
and just as two are never the same
the Lord knows and calls us each by name.
Snowflakes gently cover the world in white
and hide what’s unlovely from our sight,
showing us how He covers our sin
and gives us His grace when we come to Him.
So may every snowflake bring Christ to mind
and in every bit of white may you find a
reason to celebrate anew and a reminder
of His love for you.

I love being a small part of connecting women with God and each other.

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Snowflake Set by DaySpring

Without you, none of the words I write would matter. 

I truly appreciate you so I'm having a giveaway of this Christmas set as a little thank you!

It's from the gift line I mentioned above and it comes with two mugs as well as a carafe that's perfect for serving cozy cups of tea or cocoa.

Just leave a comment before midnight on Saturday to enter!_________________________________________________________________________________

A couple of years ago, God began stirring something new in my heart and that has turned out to be an amazing adventure I never expected. To be continued…

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My DaySpring Story: Part 3

My DaySpring Story: Part 3

(To start from Part One click here. And if you can't see the images click here.) 

I continued freelancing for DaySpring and eventually they asked if I'd like to be an intern. Of course I said "yes!" and started coming to the office one day a week during the school year and full-time during summers.

My duties consisted of glamorous tasks like entering ancient cards typed on 3×5 notecards into an even more ancient computer.

But I didn't care because occasionally I got to write.

He Came to a Throne card by Holley Gerth for DaySpring

JESUS
He came not to a throne,
but to a manger.
He lived not as a king,
but as a servant.
He chose not a kingdom,
but a cross.
He gave not just a little,
but everything.
–Holley Gerth

  
  
In those days, our schedules were a lot slower and I'd often carry my card assignments out to a picnic table under an oak tree outside. I usually took a stack of books with me too. For example, if I had a Sympathy card to write I'd read about grief and what comforted people most.

Sometimes our whole department would go to a nearby Bed & Breakfast for the day. We'd pray, sift through stacks of magazines until an idea hit us, or even watch a movie to get inspiration.

Hold out Hope card by Holley Gerth for DaySpring

Inside…

Hope is more than just a word—
it’s a state of being.
It’s a firm belief that
even if you don’t know how,
even if you don’t know when,
God will come through
and better days are ahead.
Life sends rain…
Hope dances in the puddles
until the sun comes out again.
—Holley Gerth

When I look back on those times, I'm thankful God eased me into the publishing world by gaving me a time of rest and growth.

I graduated, married, and moved to Colorado Springs where I worked at a travel magazine and then a software company writing manuals (torture!).

After almost a year it seemed God was calling us back to home and DaySpring. When I returned, I found a place far different than my internship. Our quaint little company had been bought by Hallmark and had more opportunities than we'd ever dreamed.

Even though many things have changed, I've kept many of the lessons I learned during my internship with me as a writer…

1) Creativity is inherently relational. As a writer, the best place to start isn't our own mind–it's God's heart and then the heart of someone else. We create with God for someone else.

2) Creativity has to be cultivated. Its seeds are sown through time, inspiration, new experiences, relationships. We reap creativity when we've done the hard work of planting and tending it.

3) Creativity and life are intimately linked. If we're not living fully or well, we won't create fully or well either. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. It's an investment in the vessel God uses to create. We're his pens, canvases, paintbrushes.

4) Creativity is never complete. Because it's linked to life, we are always growing, learning, expanding in our creativity. We can always get better.

What have you discovered about creativity? I'd love to learn from you.

 

God did keep giving me opportunities to grow at DaySpring. I was no longer an intern but a writer and editorial director with the privilege of working on best-selling card lines, collaborating with talented teams, winning awards for our work, and being surprised by God in other ways I couldn't have imagined. To be continued…

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My DaySpring Story: Part 2

My DaySpring Story: Part 2

(To read Part One click here. And if you can't see the images click here.) 

I slipped my card ideas into an envelope and sent them off with hope and a prayer.

Have you ever sent a dream, a piece of your heart, out into the world?

Then you know how my heart was pounding all the way to the mailbox. And at nineteen years old, I had no clue about all the proper things you're supposed to do to get published.

The Big C Card by Holley Gerth from DaySpring 

CHRIST

He is with you and many prayers are for you as you fight this battle.

You answer me and encourage me by giving me the strength I need. Psalm 138:3

When the phone rang a few weeks later a sweet woman named Ann (who is still my coworker) told me yes, DaySpring did want some of my ideas. I didn't know then that their freelance acceptance rate was about one percent.

Ann asked if I'd like to send more ideas or drop them off personally and meet the staff. It turned out DaySpring was only about thirty minutes from where I attended college. I told her I'd love to stop by.

 Hope is a Seed by Holley Gerth for DaySpring 

DaySpring started out small. They relocated from California in the early 1970s and the building where I first worked was a renovated duplex that was expanded bit by bit to hold over a hundred employees (of the almost 500 who worked there then). It overflowed with life and creativity.

So for more reasons than one, when I walked through the door that first day it felt like my heart came home.

Roy Lessin, one of the founders, took me to the product room where row after row of cards was displayed, much like my grandparents' store. He told me to look around while I waited to meet with Linn (who is still my boss now!).

As I quietly read through cards, Roy slipped up behind me again. He tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a journal. On the cover a blond-haired, brown-eyed little girl smiled in a photograph. She looked a lot like me.

I thanked Roy for the kind gift. After he walked away, I flipped through the blank pages of the journal. I couldn't help thinking of another journal–one that had a thousand pages. I'd just finished it and so many of the events recorded there during my season of rebellion filled me with regret.

I felt the Lord whispering, "Start over…and don't write anything on these new pages you wouldn't want me to read."

By the time Linn came to get me, I realized a new chapter in my life was beginning. Dancing in Puddles Card by Holley Gerth for DaySpring

I'm glad God called me to DaySpring then–not when I was the "Christian good girl," not when I felt like I deserved it, not even when I knew anything about publishing.

I'm here not because of what I've done or know but because of Who chose me for reasons beyond my understanding.

If you have a God-dream in your heart you may be thinking, "But I need to be more _________. Or I need to know__________. Or if I could just ____________. " I hope my story encourages you that God is bigger than all of those blanks.

As Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart but it's the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Yes, we are to be proactive partners in the process who pursue excellence. But God is the one who makes it happen. Nothing is impossible for Him…and for us because we are His.

And in my adventure with DaySpring He was just getting started–to be continued.

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My DaySpring Story

My DaySpring Story

When I had writer's block recently, I asked what you'd like to see as a post. Several of you mentioned DaySpring so I thought I'd start there…

Hard Times DaySpring Card 
(Cover of an award-winning card I wrote, inspired by my personal struggle.)

My grandparents had a Christian bookstore when I was growing up. I spent many hours curled up on an old chair in back of the store reading the stacks of books I'd gathered from the shelves.

I wrote my first book at age five. It was not published but proudly tucked away by its number one fan–my Mom.

I never really considered another career besides writing.

My grandma on my Dad's side was an English teacher. So it seemed words flowed through my veins and heart from the moment I came into the world.

In school I wrote poetry during science class and carried around enourmous notebooks.

I graduated and enrolled as an English major.

All through high school I'd been the "good Christian girl." And frankly, the pedestal was getting old. That first semester I rebelled.

I came home for Christmas broken and desperately missing God. During that time my sweet Grandma (the one with the bookstore) mentioned to her DaySpring sales representative that she had a granddaughter who wanted to be a writer. The representative told her I could send some ideas.

So she passed that little bit of good news along and I decided to try a few greeting cards. It became a turning point in my faith too.

And I know now that what happened next is nothing short of a miracle…to be continued.

What do you want to be when you grow up? (None of us really are grown up yet…right?)


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Happy Bloggy Birthday

Happy Bloggy Birthday

Update:Thanks to all of you for celebrating my bloggy birthday with me! And congratulations to Kristina! The random number generator chose her comment as the winner for the necklace below. Kristina is a sweet friend of mine and I know you'll love her blog as much as I do so I hope you'll stop by to say hello! The necklace is still on sale at www.dayspring.com and you can use my friends and family code (holley20) for an extra 20% off too.

 

I'm heading to the She Speaks conference in North Carolina. While I'm there my blog will celebrate a birthday! I kicked it all off with this post so I'm sharing it again…

 

I recently read a story about a newly discovered underground cave. One scientist called the cave “a beautiful anomaly.” An anomaly is something unusual, or in other words, weird. The scientists were delighted with this cave and dubbed it a national treasure.

Through that story, God got me thinking about how we all have underground caves in our lives. They may be quirks, regrets, hidden habits, or any number of things.

We usually work hard to keep people away from them. But perhaps they’re actually “beautiful anomalies” (or that’s what God can make them) and we should invite people into those places.

So I’ve decided to kick off this blog by sharing some of my underground cave stuff with you. It ranges from silly to serious.

My Top Ten Beautiful Anomalies

  1. I change the lyrics to eighties songs and sing them to my dog.
  2. I eat really weird, spicy things that make my friends shriek “Holley!” in the middle of restaurants. 
  3. When I’m thinking really hard about something I totally zone out. For example, the other day I put deodorant on my lips instead of chapstick.
  4. I have trouble getting out of bed on time. I even put chocolate on my alarm clock and it still didn’t work.
  5. I’m more afraid of failure than I am of snakes or spiders.
  6. I wasn’t “popular” in high school…and I wanted to be.
  7. I have a baby in heaven.
  8. I’m unusually fond of turtles and short, fat dogs.
  9. I’m named after my Grandpa Hollie and he’s my hero.
  10. When I get really nervous, I sweat and think there’s something in my nose.

(By the way, all of the above are still true. I could add a few more like "11. I have an embarassing tendency to wander into the men's room–especially at conferences." Good thing there won't be any men at She Speaks!) 

Just in case you’re beginning to wonder, the point of all this is to declare up front that I don’t have it all together—and no one who comes to this blog is required to either.

Yes, I’m a Christian greeting card writer. But I’m also a wife, daughter, friend, and mixed up, messed up, saved-by-grace girl who gets by in spite of herself every day.

I imagine (or at least hope) you’re a lot like me too.

And you know what? God loves us that way. He knows all about our underground caves, our quirks, the things we think make us weird. Those anomalies may even be part of the story He is writing and we are living out.

I believe God has “beautiful anomalies” too. And His infinite capacity to love us as we are will always be one of my favorites.

What birthday would be complete without a gift? This one is for you–my fabulous readers! I'm giving away one of these sterling silver God's Heart for You necklaces from DaySpring

God's Heart for You Necklace by DaySpring

It comes with a mini-card I helped create that has this message…

God's Heart for You Necklace by DaySpring 2

In God’s heart, you are…

created
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. PSALM 139:14 NIV

chosen
The Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession. DEUTERONOMY 14:2 NIV

celebrated
He will take great delight in you…
He will rejoice over you with singing. ZEPHANIAH 3:17 NIV

cherished
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. JEREMIAH 31:3 NIV

Just leave a comment or become a subscriber by midnight on Sunday and you'll be entered!

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Bless Your Nest

Bless Your Nest

Update: Kimba from A Soft Place to Land won the giveaway this week! (Thanks, random number generator.) I hope you'll stop by Kimba's wonderful blog and say hello! And if you still want the print, it's on sale at DaySpring.com and you can use my friends and family code for an extra 20% off anything you order (holley20). There are several other fun designs by Jeanne!

I've been appreciating my home a lot more lately. Perhaps it's because I've spent so much time away from it during the last four years of grad school. Whatever it is, I find myself smiling as a wash dishes (weird–I know), enjoying the view into my backyard, and thinking of new colors to paint the walls. So I'm doing a little giveaway of this print by DaySpring…

Bless Our Nest by DaySpring

It was designed by a very talented friend of mine, Jeanne Winters. She has a wonderful site and I hope you'll stop by for some inspiration and creative ideas.

Here are some other fabulous women who do a great job of making home a place I want to be. I think you'll really enjoy them too!

Jen – Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Melissa – The Inspired Room

Nester – The Nesting Place

To enter the giveaway for the print above, just leave a comment by midnight on Sunday. Or if you're not a subscriber already then sign up and you'll be entered as well (if you leave a comment and subscribe that's two entries).

Wishing you a happy weekend, heart, and home…

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Simple Summer Suppers (and a give away too)

Simple Summer Suppers (and a give away too)

Update: I loved all of your recipe ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them. I'm going to have fun trying them out (and I'm sure my husband will be grateful to you too!). The random number generator (www.random.org) chose Jennifer's comment as the winner. If you still want the platter, you can find it on www.dayspring.com. It's on sale right now and you can get an extra 20% off with my friends and family code: holley20!

I enjoyed your answers to the Life Collection give away last week so much that I've decided to do round two!

Finding time to cook is a challenge for me (and I'm sure many of you too). So this week I'd love for you to leave a comment sharing a simple summer supper!

You can type out the recipe or link to it on a site (allrecipes.com is one of my absolute favorites). You can also just say something like, "We love to have breakfast for dinner in the summer."

I'll kick things off with a recipe I came up with a couple of years ago…

 

Quick Chick Southwest Salad

1 lb chicken tenders (from the grocery deli or you can buy them frozen to cook at home)

1 bag salad mix

1 avocado

1/2 purple onion (or whatever amount you like)

1 tomato

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

Cut chicken tenders, avocado, purple onion, and tomato into bite-size pieces. Combine with salad mix. Top with cheddar cheese and your choice of dressing.

Now it's your turn! If you share a simple summer supper (remember it doesn't have to be a complete recipe like the one above–just an idea) you can win this platter from the DaySpring Life Collection

Life Collection Platter

It has the word "life" in sixteen different languages and John 10:10, "I have come that they might life, and have it to the full" in the middle. You can serve your dinner on it or just let it sit there and look pretty while you go out to eat.

So leave your simple summer supper idea as a comment by midnight on Thursday and you'll be entered to win! And we'll all be forever grateful that you helped us out in the kitchen!

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Life poured out…all sweet and summery

Life poured out…all sweet and summery

Update: Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway! I loved reading your comments. The random number generator picked Nancy's comment–she wrote about how she loves to pick up sea shells in the summer. If you still want the pitcher, you can find it on DaySpring.com. It's 15% off right now and the rest of the Life Collection is on sale too. And I'm giving you my friends and family code for another 20% off everything you choose. Just enter holley20 when you check out. Have fun!

What is it about summer that makes life feel more present, vibrant, closer than the rest of the year? Yes, it's hotblazing hotbut somehow even that heat is a reminder that winter has been banished and all is new again.

My thoughts are feeling lazy today and my words seem to be napping in the sun so I'm turning my pages over to you for a bit.

I'd love for you to share one thing you enjoy about summer by leaving a comment. And if you do so before midnight on Thursday, you'll be entered to win this pitcher from the Life collection by DaySpring. It's one of my absolute favorite things ever.

Life Collection Pitcher

You can make lemonade in it, showcase fresh flowers, or just let it sit there and look pretty. It also has John 10:10 ("I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full") around the middle.

Let the celebration of summer begin…

 

(Subscribers, remember to come to the site to leave a comment here instead of replying to the e-mail. And check back here on Friday to see who wonI'll be updating this post.)

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Sweet Freedom

Sweet Freedom

Update: The winner of the Set Free necklace giveaway is Abra! If you still want one for you or someone you love, you can find it here on DaySpring's site. Enter coupon code holley20 for an extra 20% off! 

I am feeling freedom today…do you know that weightlessness I mean? The sort that makes your heart feel as if it can fly. The kind that makes you laugh on the inside and cry on the outside because it's such a sweet relief. I have learned these last few weeks that guilt weighs much but grace is lighter than air.

My lovely friend Heather Steck designed this Set Free necklace for DaySpring about a year ago.

Set Free DaySpring Necklace  

It comes with this beautiful card featuring a message I wrote…

Set Free Necklace 2

I am set free—
Released from the past
and all that held me captive…
welcoming each day
with my wings spread wide…
Soaring into the future
and all God has for me!

I cried to the LORD,
and He answered
by setting me free.
Psalm 118:5 NIV
 

When I put those words on paper I had only begun to understand what freedom meant. I was more like the baby robins hopping about my backyard with fluttering wings. Now I feel I know so much more of what it means to have your spirit soar.

To celebrate my newfound freedom I'm giving away one of these necklaces. Just leave a comment by midnight on Thursday (and if you're a subscriber remember to click here rather than replying to the e-mail).

Sweet Freedom, you were not free at all…Love bought you and will not let you go.

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