Grief/Difficult Times

Sharing Comfort

Sharing Comfort

I'm borrowing words from Deidra at Jumping Tandem today to share how you can help comfort a courageous mama. I know how good you are at reaching out and encouraging–you've done so for me many times. Thank you, friends. 

From Deidra

On Good Friday at 7:15 PM, Heather's daughter Emma went to be with Jesus. She had been sick, and we had been praying, and our hearts were broken when we got the news that Emma Grace had slipped away.

I know some people just don't get it. These online friendships. But here you are. Online. And so I think that maybe you will understand me when I tell you I've met some of my dearest friends right here.

Like family.

We do life together. We rejoice with each other and we grieve with each other. Across miles. Over oceans. To continents we may never visit. It's a beautiful thing. Even the grieving becomes beautiful when words of comfort travel miles to reach the heart of one whose tears are all they have to give.

You might already know Heather. Maybe you follow her blog, Especially Heather. Maybe you've read her posts at (in)courage. Perhaps you'd been praying for Emma, too. Maybe you heard the news and dropped to your knees right along with the women who write for (in)courage. We shared our grief in a flurry of emails that mixed up our weeping and our sadness with hope and with whispers of prayer.

And maybe – like us – you wonder how you can help.

The amazing people at DaySpring have offered to sponsor a card basket for Heather and her family. We'd love it if you'd participate. You don't have to know Heather. You don't have to follow her blog, or mine, or anyone's. You just have to want to help…to reach out to a mother who has lost a child.

Because DaySpring is sponsoring the card basket, you can send a card to Heather at absolutely no cost to you. DaySpring will gather up all of the cards created for Heather, package them beautifully in a basket, and deliver the card basket to Heather's home.

To create a card for Heather's family, click here, or use the link at the end of this post. When you checkout, use HEATHER as your coupon code, and DaySpring will pick up the tab. We'll accept cards until midnight on Saturday, and I'm sure Heather's family would appreciate your prayers.

Link to Heather's DaySpring card basket: http://bit.ly/gxC0U3
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When your heart needs comfort…

When your heart needs comfort…

Flowers and vase photo by hello-julie (flickr creative commons) We walk the dusty trails up a hill to a resting place for a man who knew how to love.

And I think of another walk up another hill by the Man who died so we could live forever.

All week long I feel His comfort.

In words shared by all of you…

How can I ever thank you?

In love from family and friends…

Those arms around us make the world right again.

In smiles as we tell stories…

Laughter really is the best medicine for a broken heart.

I'm here again today, back at this table, fingers returning to the keys. And I just want you to know I'm bowing my head right now and praying for you–

Lord, thank you so much for my wonderful readers and the way they've encouraged my heart this week. I'm so glad you're with them today the way I wish I could be. Please give each of their hearts a hug for me.

I pray especially for the one reading these words right now. You know the hurts and happiness in her life. Whatever she needs today, please bring it to her–whether it's comfort, strength, hope, joy, or simply more of your love. Amen. 

For all the ways you've been a blessing to me, I'm asking God to bless you in return. I love all of you as my family in Christ. Thank you again for your sweet encouragement this week.

by holley

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Good news if you ever feel broken…

Good news if you ever feel broken…

Broken dish by minkeymonkeymoo (flickr creative commons) The dish slips from my hand, hits the floor, shatters into a million pieces.

I slip down beside it.

Tears.

It was one of my favorites, a gift from someone I loved.

In the cabinet I can see my remaining dishes.

Plain. Glass. Replaceable. But this dish?

I treasured it.

I think of a phrase God uses over and over to describe us…

Treasured possession. Deuteronomy 7:6

And in that moment I know with all my heart that He cares about our brokenness. He cares about our hurts. It matters to Him when we are shattered. He came down beside us so that we would know that fully.

You're not just glass to Him. Replaceable.

No, you are the one He loves.

You are the one He treasures.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Where is God's treasure?

With you.

Then where is His heart?

With you as well.

Right there. Right now. In the middle of your brokenness.

Only He can put you back together…

And you can be sure He loves you enough to do it.

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p.s. Thank you so much for celebrating my Grandpa's 90th birthday and my Mom's too! Congratulations to Mare for winning the Ever Grateful pitcher and Mercedes for winning the Her Children Arise and Call Her Blessed bracelet–both from DaySpring! And just to show you how thankful I am, you can use my friends and family code (holley20) for 20% off anything and everything you'd like on DaySpring.com

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Rain on me by holley gerth  

God and I aren't the only ones who care about your brokenness this Christmas season. A generous Heart to Heart with Holley reader said she'd like to anonymously donate a copy of my devotional book, Rain on Me, to two of you who are hurting. Isn't that so wonderful? Just leave a comment before midnight on Sunday and you'll be entered…

 

 

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written with love for you by holley gerth

 

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If you’ve ever been wounded…

If you’ve ever been wounded…

I wish I could be with all of you during this season and take you with me to the homes of my friends. Wouldn't that be wonderful? So this month I'll occasionally be doing posts (like the one for today) that start here and finish on a blog of someone I love. Thanks so much for coming with me! It really means a lot…

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Red door photo by bfick (flickr) Hot tears slam my cheeks, slide down, rivers of unbidden emotion.

I'm shocked at their appearance–hot lava exploding from a mountain that had just been covered in daisies.

I slip into a bathroom stall, place my head in my hands, sniffle into a square of paper. That year…so good, so hard.

I feel more like a warrior than a writer.

My heart has the scars to prove it.

But then, softly, a whisper comes to my heart, "Put down your sword."

And I notice, for the first time, how my heart has stood in ready-to-fight position for so long, stiff, waiting to dodge the next blow.

I relent. And something inside clatters to the ground. I see the wounds, still fresh, not noticed in the heat of the battle. I touch them tentatively. Cover protectively.

Then again, softly within…

"If I will wash your feet, will I not wash your wounds?"

 

My friend and fellow writer, Mary DeMuth, is starting a series about healing on her blog this week. If you've ever been hurt, will you come with me and read the rest there? You can tell us how we can pray for you too… just click here.

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The true cost (and joy) of Christmas

I wish I could be with all of you during this season and take you with me to the homes of my friends. Wouldn't that be wonderful? So this month I'll occasionally be doing posts (like the one for today) that start here and finish on a blog of someone I love. Thanks so much for coming with me! It really means a lot…

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Christmas-Change The phone rang too early in the morning a few days before Christmas.

And my heart released someone I loved to the hands of heaven.

Ever since I’ve been conscious of those for whom this is not the most wonderful time of year. I’ve seen a bit of “the other side of the manger.” Even in that lowly stable the shadow of what was to come fell across Christ.

Christmas isn’t just about the merry and bright.

It’s also about Love deeper than we know—deep enough to conquer even death.

That’s where the wildest joy is found.

We don’t have to check our pain at the door of Christmas.

We can bring it, full force, to the One who knows that the manger leads to the cross. He also knows the unexpected joy that can come on the other side…

Will you read the rest with me on the Christmas Change blog, a dream that began in the hearts of my friends Seth and Amber? I'd love for you to meet them. You can let us know how we can pray for you this week there too. Just click here…

 

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written with love for you by holley 

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A Different Kind of Hope: Part Six

A Different Kind of Hope: Part Six

Candles by FotoDawg (flickr) 
To start from Part One click here.

I began this series with candles flickering in the light of a MEND service.

And as we draw closer to the end, I find myself thinking of light again.

I closed my talk that evening at MEND by saying…

Hope is a flame that's lit inside us and no amount of darkness can overcome it. 

I imagine each of you also have a dream inside your heart that has flickered.

Yes, we know that feeling…the moment when light almost slips into darkness. But then, a divine spark comes and it is our choice to fan it into flame or let it fade.

A different kind of hope keeps shining no matter what.

Ann Voskamp asks us this week to think of Christ coming.

holy experience

And as I ponder this, I think about one of His names…Light of the World.

(A little side note…when I went to link this post to Ann's site I found she, too, wrote about light this week. You'll love her words.)

The candles within our hearts don't bear our own light—they bear His.

He came long ago to a manger in Bethlehem. But He also comes again here, now, when our hearts need Him most.

It is not new light that burns within us, brightening the path.

No, the only true Light is the One illuminating all of eternity.

On Christmas, this is what (WHO!) we joyfully celebrate.

Jesus, Light of the World.

Yes, shine in us again.

 

What's one way He has brought hope to your heart this year?

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Hope and Encouragement Card Pack by DaySpring For each post in this series I'll be giving away a Hope and Encouragement card pack from DaySpring so you can help some hurting hearts. It includes 10 cards (I wrote some of them) and would be worth over $30 if you got them at a store. I'll announce all the winners when the series is done. Just leave a comment on any of the postsor on more than one for extra entries!

(Subscribers, remember to go to the post to leave your comment. Thanks!)

*This giveaway is done but you can enter a new one and join me in The Rest of Your Story series by clicking here!

 

Subscribe by Email

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A Different Kind of Hope: Part Five

A Different Kind of Hope: Part Five

Gift photo by mysza831 (flickr)

To start from Part One click here.

First of all, THANK YOU from the bottom of my little southern heart for all of your kind words and prayers! Here's a HUG AND A HALF for each of you.

I've recovered quite a bit of my strength and some of my grammar. Oh, and the fridge is fixed! Woo-hoo!

So, let's get back to a different kind of hope.

When I started this little series I thought I'd just share from the talk I gave at MEND. But as you know, we took a little detour with the Pity Party. And I think I'll stay sidetracked for one more day.

You see, first I had the Pity Party and then I almost went on a Guilt Trip.

Because I looked at other blogs, and twitter, and the news, and I thought, "What is the matter with me? How can I be feeling sorry for myself when everyone else in the whole world has it worse than I do?"

You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

So I started packing my bags for the Guilt Trip—a little shame, a couple of not-nice remarks about my selfishness, a stack of sighs a mile high.

BUT THEN a lesson I learned from a very wise professor I had in grad school came back to me. Dr. Gary Oliver, who taught Christian Foundations in Counseling, told us (Holley translation)…

"Do not compare your pain with others. The worst pain you will ever feel is your own. That does not mean you are selfishthat means you are human."

Each heart knows its own bitterness. Proverbs 14:10

Dr. Oliver has lost a wife and son in the last few years as well as faced cancer. If anyone has the right to say, "My pain is bigger than your pain" it's him. His point was that when it comes to pain—it's far better to share than compare.

Turns out it works a whole lot better for us and everyone else to just say, "Yep, had a stinky day/week/decade." Then we can get on with healing and helping rather then denying ourselves right into exhaustion.

So I'm giving you an early Christmas gift.

Permission.

Permission to be honest about what's not so great in your life right now. Not permission to wallow, mind you—but permission to acknowledge, throw the Pity Party and then get on with the real party of life.

Do I still go on Guilt Trips? Yes, ma'am. I just try to turn the car around a little faster and go to, oh, Dallas instead of Antartica. Sometimes it even works!

A different kind of hope shares rather than compares.

So if you find yourself saying, "I'm fine" when you're not, then there's something I want you to do. (Warning: it's a little odd but you should be used to that from me by now.)

Picture me handing you a big shiny box with a big fluffy bow with a big fat tag that says PERMISSION right across the front.

Then imagine me leaning in and whispering with a smile, "Merry Christmas…I think Someone Who Really Loves You wants you to have this too."

 

p.s. About thirty seconds after I finished writing this, I got a call that my husband had been in an accidentanother car hit him from behind. So we spent the evening in the ER but he's home with just whiplash and I'm so grateful! I don't know what's going on lately, y'all, but please keep those prayers coming! And, YES, I had another cookie

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Hope and Encouragement Card Pack by DaySpring For each post in this series I'll be giving away a Hope and Encouragement card pack from DaySpring so you can help some hurting hearts. It includes 10 cards (I wrote some of them) and would be worth over $30 if you got them at a store. I'll announce all the winners when the series is done. Just leave a comment on any of the postsor on more than one for extra entries!

(Subscribers, remember to go to the post to leave your comment. Thanks!)

*This giveaway is done but you can enter a new one and join me in The Rest of Your Story series by clicking here!

 

Subscribe by Email

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A Different Kind of Hope: Part Four

A Different Kind of Hope: Part Four

Chocochocochip photo by CharlotteSpeaks (flickr)

To start from Part One click here.

Okay, friends, I'm going to have to interrupt this little series for a party.

A pity party.

Because I'm sick for the fourth day in a row. Our refrigerator broke and every non-perishable item I own is in a cooler on the back porch. AND my entire family is arriving here on Friday.

My house looks like a war zone covered in tissue bombs. I'm eating the weirdest stuff you can imagine based on what I think will thaw first. AND my Christmas shopping is not done.

I scared the living daylights out of the refrigerator repair man because I have not worn make-up in four days. Let's not talk about how many showers I've had in that time period. AND my dog has even started sleeping outside.

It's one of THOSE weeks.

Yes and amen.

So I sat down to write another post and I thought of some really nice, spiritual things to say. And I would mean them, I really would.

But you know, I've learned it's also sorta spiritual to just say, "This week is really stinky and at the moment, so am I. Help me, Jesus, before I eat an entire platter of cookies." (Sugar is bad for your immune system, you know.)

A different kind of hope understands this handy little truth: sometimes you've just got to laugh because life ain't no peach pie after all.

(By the way, if a writer-sort-of-person says "ain't no" then you know things have gotten out of control. The level of disregard for grammar and/or spontaneous use of a regional accent is approximately equal to the level of emotion in his/her life on any given day.)

Now where are those cookies, Y'ALL?

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Hope and Encouragement Card Pack by DaySpring

For each post in this series I'll be giving away a Hope and Encouragement card pack from DaySpring so you can help some hurting hearts. It includes 10 cards (I wrote some of them) and would be worth over $30 if you got them at a store. I'll announce all the winners when the series is done. Just leave a comment on any of the postsor on more than one for extra entries!

(Subscribers, remember to go to the post to leave your comment. Thanks!)

*This giveaway is done but you can enter a new one and join me in The Rest of Your Story series by clicking here!

 

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A Different Kind of Hope: Part Three

A Different Kind of Hope: Part Three

Vintage Central Park by alan(ator) - flickr 
To start from Part One click here.

Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

When I first read this verse I thought it had a typo.

Wasn't hope supposed to be first on the list?

After all, that's how the world often portrays it—as a fluffy feeling that lets us float through hard times.

But it turns out that's not the way it works in the Kingdom.

Suffering produces perseverance…

We all know what that's like—those are the days when we simply get up and put one foot in front of the other by faith when feelings are nowhere to be found.

Perseverance, character…

If we do that enough days in a row, it changes who we are because of all we learn about who He is in the middle of our circumstances. 

And character, hope…

When who we are is transformed, hope comes to stay. Because we know in the core of our being that we can face anything with God.

Getting to a different kind of hope is a journey.

It doesn't happen all at once. It's the culmination of our hearts taking a thousand little steps of faith. And along the way choosing to say, "Yes, God, I will stick with you no matter what."

Real hope meets us where we expect it least and need it most.

So if life seems hard right now and you wonder how much longer you can go on, take heart

Hope is already on the way.

 

p.s. I wrote this post covered up on the couch surrounded by Kleenex and cough drops. I've got the crudand nothing gets me down like being sick! So I've really needed this reminder too. Amen and achoo!

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Hope and Encouragement Card Pack by DaySpring

For each post in this series I'll be giving away a Hope and Encouragement card pack from DaySpring so you can help some hurting hearts. It includes 10 cards (I wrote some of them) and would be worth over $30 if you got them at a store. I'll announce all the winners when the series is done. Just leave a comment on any of the postsor on more than one for extra entries!

(Subscribers, remember to go to the post to leave your comment. Thanks!)

*This giveaway is done but you can enter a new one and join me in The Rest of Your Story series by clicking here!

 

Subscribe by Email

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A Different Kind of Hope: Part Two

A Different Kind of Hope: Part Two

Stars by Lizard10979 (flickr) 
To read Part One click here.

Sometimes in the middle of our hurt we may think, “I’m not too happy with God right now. In fact, I don’t like what He’s done one bit.”

That’s okay too. God gave us all of our emotions—sadness, joy, anger—and that means He can handle all of them. 

Is it easy to come to Him in hard times and does it mean we happily accept everything from His hands?

No.

But ultimatefuly we have to decide if we're going to trust.

I remember being in a book club and we read about the Holocaust. It was shortly after a loss on my journey and it seemed there had been a small Holocaust in my heart as well.

We were talking about how God could allow something like that to happen. I said, “I don’t know…but I feel like God is asking me, 'Will you love me for who I am or for who you want me to be?' ” 

He asks all of us that question at some point. It’s not an easy one…in fact, it's the hardest one I've ever had to answer.

Yet at the end of the day we have to choose, even when we don't understand.

There’s a blog I loved called Bring the Rain by Angie Smith. She lost her little girl, Audrey Caroline the day she was born. In one place Angie says…

Sometimes I think it’s harder to believe the way I do, because I believe with everything in me that He could have changed the story. This line of thinking inevitable leads me to the question, “Why didn’t He?”

Many people have written with the same question, and I want to tell you that I have thought it through many times and I have come up with a great theological explanation that I want to share with you.

I have absolutely no idea.

What I do know is this: The Lord walks beside me as He walked beside Moses, and He knows me by name. He loves me, and I love Him. I pushed my baby through the reeds and never saw her again. And yet here I am, worshipping the God who allowed it.

 

A different kind of hope holds on to Who not why.

And He holds us right back…

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Hope and Encouragement Card Pack by DaySpring

For each post in this series I'll be giving away a Hope and Encouragement card pack from DaySpring so you can help some hurting hearts. It includes 10 cards (I wrote some of them) and would be worth over $30 if you got them at a store. I'll announce all the winners when the series is done. Just leave a comment on any of the postsor on more than one for extra entries!

(Subscribers, remember to go to the post to leave your comment. Thanks!)

*This giveaway is done but you can enter a new one and join me in The Rest of Your Story series by clicking here!

 

Subscribe by Email

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