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Even if you’re not a mama…and especially if you are

Even if you’re not a mama…and especially if you are

Kids photo by D. Sharon Pruitt (flickr creative commons) I'm around moms a lot. Friends, church, the grocery store. And while God hasn't made children part of my personal journey yet, I feel like I can relate to mamas in certain ways–like learning about grace, patience, and dreams (isn't every child a God-sized dream waiting to grow?).

So when my friend Kristen Welch first shared that she had written a devotional called, Don't Make Me Come Up There: Quiet Moments for Busy Moms, I just had to get my hands on a copy. Who cares if I have kids, I thought, I'll at least apply it to the dog.

But by page five I knew Kristen was writing about much more than parenting. Like she always does, she's really writing to the heart. She says:

"Last week was bad. Not the kind of bad you can blame on a broken dishwasher or a naughty child or someone else.

It was a week filled with me failing…

We live in a world that doesn't like failure. It's ugly and messy. Our world wants perfection, perfectly manicured people who never mess up. Just turn on the television or go to the movies or ask a friend if he or she has messed up lately….

But we were born imperfect and into sin. Through failure, I am drawn to the One who runs to me. He does not turn away from my shortcomings. He is not afraid of my humanity."

For years on her blog, We are THAT Family, Kristen has been willing to open up about her weaknesses. And she's taught many women more about grace in doing so. {Also, y'all, Kristen is funny-funny. I used a serious quote here but her book and blog will make you laugh out loud.}

Kristen's mama heart goes far beyond her own household in other ways too. Last year she took on a new task–opening a maternity home in Africa. You can read more about The Mercy House here. (All of the author royalties from the book go to this project.)

I may not be a mom yet but I'm encouraged by Kristen, her life, and her words. Because really, we are all THOSE people–the ones in need of grace, love, acceptance and to know we're not alone or even all that crazy. And sometimes we can all just use a big 'ol hug for our hearts from a mama (and our Heavenly Father too). 

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When someone has the nerve to ask me in a questioning tone, "What do you do all day?" I've decided this will be my forever answer: "I'm a mom. What's your superpower?"   

— Kristen Welch, Don't Make Me Come Up There 

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Don't Make Me Come Up There by Kristen Welch

 

Because they think you're wonderful, Abingdon Press is providing two copies of Kristen's book for me to give to you. Woo-hoo! To enter leave a comment sharing a story about being a mom with us by midnight on the 25th. It can be about you, a friend, your mama, whoever. If it's funny, that's even better.

Update: The winners of Kristen Welch's book are Jessica Kirkland and Janis Agee.

 

Would you like to leave a comment or Subscribe by Email? {Subscribers, remember to go to Heart to Heart with Holley instead of replying to the e-mail.}

 

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When your heart is hungry for more…

When your heart is hungry for more…

Doughnuts photo by D Sharon Pruitt When I timidly put up a little post about feeling burned out, I had no idea so many of you would leave a comment or e-mail me your encouragement.

Thank you.

Your words wrapped themselves around my heart. Your prayers surrounded me. I wish I could hug each and every one of you. And when I see you (here or in heaven)–I will!

I didn't know what to write here next. How to capture what I've been feeling, what God has been gently whispering to my heart.

Then I remembered I already had a post planned for today. My dear friend and fellow writer, Lysa Terkeurst, just released a book called Made to Crave. It's about feeling empty and finding satisfaction in God. When I told her weeks ago I'd like to share it with you, I didn't realize it would be perfect timing.

Lysa knows firsthand about feeling empty. For years she turned to food to fill her up. While I haven't gone through that particular struggle with as much intensity as she has, I still know what it means to crave, to want, to yearn for something other than Jesus.

For me it's been the approval of people, the drive for perfection, the inward cry for more, more, more.

Instead of reaching for a cupcake I reach for the computer.

Instead of having another slice of apple pie I grab another helping of approval. 

Jesus has been sweetly telling me these last few days that He is the only one who can fill my hungry heart. At the end of a prayer session I had on Friday I remember these words being spoken: Jesus is the Bread of Life.

I, like Lysa, find that I no longer want to be satisfied with anything less. She says:

I've tasted the deep satisfaction of God and I know all other things are but cheap imitations. And I don't want to be enamored by the lesser things wrought with momentary pleasure.

I am a woman who has witnessed too much.

I am ruined for good.

I too have seen God work miracles.

I've been led through the impossible.

He's guided me.

He's brought living water to replace my dried up places.

He's given me everything and I don't want to forget.

Not with my mind, not with my soul, not with my heart, and certainly not with my body.

Lord, may it be so for all of us. I feel that I'm on the start of a new journey. It's as if God has stilled me, drawn me to Himself, and whispered, "now let me show you a better way."

And what is the best way?

The One who is the way, the truth, the life.

Life.

I'd almost forgotten how sweet that word is on my tongue.

I'm ready to remember.

Will you take this journey with me? To less of us, more of Him, life to the full?

written with love for you by holley

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* Update: Congrats to Christina Arthur for winning a copy of Made to Crave!

Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst If you're in a place of feeling empty, of wanting and never being satisfied–especially in the area of food–then I'd love to recommend Lysa's book, Made to Crave. It hit the New York Times bestseller list this week!

You can find the book here. You can also listen in to Lysa's weekly webcast on Monday nights.

And if you leave a comment here before midnight on Thursday, you'll be entered to win a copy of Made to Crave (a gift for you from Lysa).

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Thank you again for your love, support, and prayers. So grateful for you…

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Can you really love yourself?

Can you really love yourself?

Mirror photo by Sidewalk Flying (flickr creative commons) I stand in front of the mirror and wipe the sleep from my eyes. What do I notice first? Tossled hair, a few extra pounds hanging around after the holidays, perhaps the tiniest of lines beginning to make an appearance.

A paragraph from Annie Downs' book, From Head to Foot, pops into my mind…

If you are like me, even a little bit, then the idea of loving all of you seems challenging at best. More like impossible, if you were to be really honest. I sat at a coffee shop last night as my friend, in tears, looked across the table and said, "How do I love me, Annie?" And as I sat there, I realized this isn't a one-sentence answer. And it isn't a one-moment solution.

Don't we all ask this question at some point?

It seems like it would be easy to love ourselves. And, yes, it may seem appear that we do. After all, we can be selfish, indulgent, and pretty committed to getting what we want. Or maybe that's just me. Ahem.

But that's not the kind of love I mean–or the kind Jesus meant when He said, "love your neighbor as yourself." The kind that sets us free to serve, find joy, and follow hard after God with all we are…heart, soul, mind and body. 

Once a month I ask you to come on over to (in)courage and read the rest of a post there with me. I'm so thankful for that community and absolutely love it when you're there. Today you can join our conversation about this topic and have a chance to win Annie's book too! Will you read the rest on (in)courage with me? Oh, thank you! You're just wonderful.

From Head to Foot by Annie Downs

 

Do you struggle with loving who you are, inside or out? What helps you? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment on (in)courage before midnight on January 15th. When you do, you'll be entered to win a copy of From Head to Foot: All of You Living All for Him by Annie Downs. To get to (in)courage, just click here.

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Your heart is headed for higher ground!

Your heart is headed for higher ground!

Photo by UggBoyUggGirl (flickr creative commons) The last couple of days we've been talking about walking on water and what it really means for all things to be possible for us.

I spoke with a wise friend and she said, "I think another wave is coming your way! Now is the time to get ready." I tucked those words away in my heart and wondered, "Then how do I prepare so I can walk on water with Jesus when it comes?"

As I prayed about that one morning it seemed God whispered to my heart to turn to chapter four of a book I'd just received. How did the chapter begin? With a story about a huge wave that hit Asia and the plans being made to ensure a better outcome in the future. 

One phrase leaped out: Get to higher ground. It echoed in my heart because ever since the New Year has started I've also been asking God to teach me to live in JOY–the higher ground of the heart.

All kinds of waves come into our lives. They can flow from a tide of blessings or come out of a storm. Happy or hard, they can overwhelm us if we end up treading water in our own strength (not that I know from experienceahem).

I pondered, "Okay, God, how do I get my heart to higher ground so I'm ready? Where do you want me to go?"

The next morning I read a verse in Psalms about joy. I loved it so much that I wrote it in my journal:

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, You surround them with Your favor as with Your shield. Psalm 5:11-12

I loved the imagery of the verse–how it says God not only spreads His protection over us, He surrounds us on every side. I even drew this picture of it in my journal and wrote the phrase "like the cleft of the rock."

Holley's Journal - Cleft of the Rock
 
You remember the story about the cleft of the rock, don't you? The Israelites are on their way to the Promised Land. They rebel and God says He'll no longer go with them. Moses begs for God's mercy and says they won't go to higher ground without Him.

Moses said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here." The Lord replied, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then Moses said, "Now show me Your glory." Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by." (read the whole story in Exodus 33:12-23)

A few days later on a quiet morning, I opened Sheila Walsh's new book, The Shelter of God's Promises. I've loved Sheila's writing ever since her book The Heartache No One Sees helped heal some broken places in me several years ago. I'm not the only one Sheila has touched–her writing and speaking have ministered to millions of women, especially through Women of Faith.

In the first few pages of The Shelter of God's Promises, Sheila shares a story of going to higher ground. This time it's quite literal–a hiking trip to the mountains with friends during college. Through some hilarious as well as anxiety-producing circumstances, Sheila winds up spending the night in a cave and God uses that experience to show her He is her true shelter. She closes this chapter, which encapsulates the heart of the book, with these words:

 
The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh What has had the most lasting impact on me is that, in the storm and under pressure, God took me to a place of rest, comfort, and ultimately, to a place of absolute beauty. Even among discomfort, disappointment, and displacement, I was kept safe.  

From a cleft in the rock, a new day dawned, a glimpse of splendor and glory, and a moment of such beautiful fellowship with God that I knew He loved me deeply, intimately, surely, as sure as the rock I stood upon.

Sheila made her way to higher ground on that hiking trip. She found the shelter her heart needed not just for that night but for all of life. And it wasn't just a place–it was a Person. I thought back to the questions I'd asked…

God, how do I get my heart to higher ground? Where do You want me to go? 

To the cleft of the rock.

To Christ.

The One who will shelter us–no matter what may come.

The One who will walk on water with us–yes, the time will come!

Friends, let's move onward and upward together this year…

Who's with me?

 

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Our Daily Bread Promise Box from DaySpringThanks to our generous friends at Thomas Nelson and DaySpring, I've put together a "Promise Pack" for you. It has a copy of The Shelter of God's Promises, a Daily Bread Promise Box, and an All Things Through Christ bracelet

I'm giving away two of these Promise Packs. Just leave a comment sharing how God's promises have been your shelter in the past (we'll praise Him with you!) or a situation where you need Him to shelter you now (we'll pray for you too). Also, what's a question your heart is asking after reading this post?All Things through Christ bracelet by DaySpring 

Leave your comment by midnight on Thursday the 13th to be entered for the Promise Pack. AND Sheila Walsh has agreed to personally answer two of your questions during a radio broadcast on January 19th. Woo-hoo! I'll share more fun details when I announce the Promise Pack winners!_______________________________________________________________________________________

  

written with love for you by holley

Would you like to leave a comment or Subscribe by Email? 

{Subscribers, remember to go to Heart to Heart with Holley to enter instead of replying by e-mail. To get there, just click here.}

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God-sized Dreams by Bonnie from Faith Barista

God-sized Dreams by Bonnie from Faith Barista

As we continue our conversation about God-sized Dreams, I asked my dear friend Bonnie Gray from Faith Barista to share. Bonnie and I connected online last year and our friendship became even deeper when we finally got to meet face-to-face in California. We sat in a parking late one night and talked about our dreams and why joy is so hard sometimes. What she had to say encouraged me then…and I believe what she has to say today will do the same for you too.

Dreambreeze - Photo courtesy of Photobucket I think I'm pregnant with promise, but what if I'm wrong?

It's a question that plagues me like water dripping out of a broken faucet. I've tried to turn off the doubt with positive sayings and even memorized verses. But, my fears of failing won't go away. It's because God hasn't given up on me. He wants me to keep moving towards my God-sized dreams.

Yesterday's Comfort

It's not the first time God has given me a dream bigger than what I'm capable of. Most of my life has been spent pursuing what I've believed God has called me to do. But I look back and see long stretches of fall and winter. I can't say those years weren't fruitful, because I have come to develop a comfort in finding God in them.

I've depended on God since my early years as the oldest girl growing up in a single parent family with little means. God is all the Daddy I know, so I stuck to him for dear life.

Dysfunctional upbringing? I sucked up the words of Jesus, like the last oxygen mask left in a broken plane crashing down.

Dreams of becoming a writer dashed for a practical engineering degree? I chose to find my joy in serving others instead.

A traumatic stint in missions left years marked by solitude and prayer, while singleness past 30 handed me the questions about the gift of singleness.

Even though I later got the surprising joy of getting married, I've been learning to be content with the storyline of my life for a very long time. I got so good at living with the disappointment of yesterday that I have trouble opening my heart up to taste joy in today.

Sand Between My Toes

I'd say I'm a happy person who loves to laugh, eat chocolate, and enjoy friends. And I can't describe the thrill my heart feels when I get to encourage others.

As for personal joy, the kind that is God-sized? I like to stick to the kind of joy that comes out of suffering and trials. Not because I'm all that spiritual. That's just the kind I know about.

I'm comfortable with walking through deserts. I'm used to wearing sandals and getting sand between my toes. Trouble is, I was walking along fine until one day, I stepped out of the desert and into new waters of healing. Scenes in my life that previously looked void of purpose took on a new shape, color, and sound. I started seeing God in the background.

I realized as hard and painful as my losses have been, Jesus' love for me grew deeper in spite of it all.

What Doesn't Feel Like Me

I've always felt like an ugly duckling, with experiences I wish never got written into my life. Since Jesus started showing me how He carried me through it all, I now see the fruits of love, faithfulness, and gentleness that He's planted in me, along with each sorrow.

A new kind of joy has been growing in my heart. It's a growing desire for beauty even though I've experienced the barrenness of dreams.

This joy is calling me to embrace abundance and celebrate the opportunities He's placed in my life.

Like a new pair of shoes, this joy is very uncomfortable. This joy doesn't feel like it's me. I'm afraid to lean into this joy because maybe it won't last.

Why Awkwardness

So many questions I never asked are now challenging this new freedom.

How will this joy change me?

Will my friends like this new me?

If I embrace this joy, will I love feeling this way more than depending on God?

Ultimately, all this awkwardness is a question about trusting in God's love. I'm used to snuggling in Jesus' arms. Now, He wants me to ride on His shoulders. Do I really deserve to be here? God is saying —

Yes, You deserve to be here. Because I love you.

 

~~~~~ Maybe you understand me better now, when I say that I think I'm pregnant with promise. I'm not having a baby. I'm expecting a God-sized dream. It's very early in the pregnancy right now. It's not even official. I hope this work that God is doing in me is real. I'm scared, but I'm also expectant. Because He loves me, I know God will stick by me no matter what.

 

"Who is like the Lord our God…

He lifts the needy from the ash heap,

To make them sit with princes…

He makes the barren woman abide in the house

As a joyful mother of children."

~ Psalm 113:5-9

Do you feel God is doing a new work in you? How is embracing joy part of that journey?

by Bonnie Gray, Faith Barista

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Tree of Life Cuff Bracelet by DaySpring Answer Bonnie's question above by leaving a comment before midnight CST on Sunday the 3rd and you'll be entered to win this new Tree of Life cuff bracelet by DaySpring to remind you of the new things God is growing in you!  

Would you like to leave a comment or Subscribe by Email?

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Visit Bonnie's blog!

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A Different Kind of Hope: Giveaway Winners!

A Different Kind of Hope: Giveaway Winners!

Snow and Flower photo by wordcat57 (flickr)

HOPE is a seed God plants in our hearts

to remind us there are better days ahead.


Thanks so much for going through the A Different Kind of Hope series with me!

I decided to give two Hope and Encouragement card packs per post because there were so many comments! I used the random number generator to choose them.

So look for your name below and send me an e-mail (holleyg@dayspring.com) with your address if you won!

You can find the Hope and Encouragement card pack as well as several others on DaySpring.com (psst…they're having a great After Christmas Sale right now—up to 75% off!).

And as a little thanks, you can use my friends and family code (holley20) to get an extra 20% off everything on DaySpring.com.

And now the winners…

PART ONE

Lauri and Shelli

PART TWO

Grace & Peace and Cathleen Johnson

PART THREE

Amber and Cindy Faulkner

PART FOUR

Sarah and Amy V.

PART FIVE

Diva and Larie

PART SIX

Jeanine and Kristen

PART SEVEN

Patty and Laura

Congratulations! And thanks again to everyone who left comments!

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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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