People & Places

Weekend Round Up

Weekend Round Up

I'm from Texas and I think the term "round up" originally had to do with cowboys and cattle but I like to use it when I've got a whole herd of exciting things to share at once–like today!


I'm writing today at Held, a new ministry for women struggling with infertility. I've been on that journey for seven years. It's not what I would have chosen but it's turned into a journey I wouldn't trade. Here's an excerpt from my post

Chair and flower photo by hello-julie (flickr creative commons) "Eve is described as the mother of all living

I've come to believe all women are mothers because we all bring life to the world. Most often through the birth of physical children from our bodies.

But in other ways too…when we write, cook, plant, make beauty where there was none, speak an encouraging word, say a prayer, take a hand and form hope out of thin air, resurrect a marriage, save a life from poverty, bring forth light and truth and goodness in ways women are uniquely created to do.

We are mothers in more ways than one…."

You can read the rest here. If you are someone you love is struggling with infertility, Held will be an encouragement!


Most of you know how much I love being part of the community of (in)courage–a place online that's a bit like God's beach house. I'm in love with this video and just couldn't wait to share it with you!


{subscribers, if you can't see the video just click here}

If you're hanging out at (in)courage already, thank you. And if you haven't stopped by yet, come on over!


And finally, I've got a couple of giveaway winners to announce. It's so much fun sharing things I love with you!

Don't Make Me Come Up There by Kristen Welch First, the winners of Kristen Welch's book, Don't Make Me Come Up There {a wonderful devo for mamas I wrote about in this post} are Jessica Kirkland and Janis Agee. Thanks to our friends at Abingdon Press for providing those. You still have time to get a copy before Mother's Day!

And the winner of the I Can Do All Things Through Christ Cross {thanks, DaySpring} from the giveaway last weekend is Tricia Goyer.

If you've still got some Mother's Day shopping to do, you can use my friends and family discount for anything and everything your little heart desires on {code: holley20}. Enjoy!


Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!


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Favorite family things…

Favorite family things…

Floy and Lewis The lines on the pages seem to mirror the lines on her delicate hands–traces of history, of years well-lived, whispers of stories told long ago.

My Mom and I are at the home of my Great Aunt Nina. Perched on a quilt-covered bed, she's showing us our family history all the way back to centuries before.

I see families laughing together on front porches.

I read of births, deaths, the dashes in-between.

I look at leaves of my family tree blown in the winds of time.

One page lists family traits that have been passed down through generations: hard work, faith, honesty, and quietness.

These are a few of my favorite things–the heirlooms of the heart. The legacy woven, each new generation adding their threads, that goes on and on.

It belongs to none of us, to all of us, to the past and present and future.

I smile with the cheeks I've inherited from great-grandma, and grandma, and mom.

I remember I'm part of a bigger story.

And I thank the Author of life.





This post is part of Five Minute Friday on The Gypsy Mama. Would you like to join us?



{photo of my great-grandparents, Floy and Lewis Dobbins}

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When you’d like to stay in love

When you’d like to stay in love

Mark & Holley Hours from now I'll climb in a car, drive south, and spend a few days at a conference. I'm a licensed counselor at The Joshua Center and this conference is all about marriage, hope, and forgiveness.

I think of my marriage, now ten years old. When we did premarital counseling, all the charts said we were opposite–"incompatible." But we didn't care. We were young and in love.

So we said "I do" and we learned what those differences between us meant in everyday life. How being very emotional (me) and very practical (him) can rub up against each other like sand paper.

But funny thing about sand paper–over the years it makes the rough places smooth when it's in God's hands. Those differences? That incompatibility? I wouldn't trade a thing for them now. They've become some of the greatest strengths of our marriage.

We took another relationships assessment lately. This time? "Highly compatible. Vitalized marriage."

We laughed out loud about that one for a long time. We grinned at what God can do. My husband is a good man–strong, steady, kind and a faithful friend to me. Maybe I've got some positive qualities too. But what I'm learning is that the best way to find love, and to stay in it, is to keep running back to the God who is love.

Only He can transform our weaknesses into strengths. Only He can take two broken, fallen people and teach them how to love each other well. (And let me tell you, I can be a stinker to live with sometimes.) Only He can take a couple through over six years of storms and make their marriage come out stronger on the other side.

I don't know what the conference I'm going to will say about marriage. But I know this–love is more complicated and more worth it than I could have imagined over ten years ago.

Perfectly compatible? Happily ever after?

Sounds pretty boring to me.

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Extraordinary Women

Extraordinary Women

80929 Umbrellas by Nina Matthew Photography - Copy I wake before the sun rises, turn off the alarm and roll out of bed. It's Saturday and I'm not a morning person. But today I'm on a mission.

I pull on a sweater, squint in the mirror, grab the cup of coffee my sleepy husband hands me (thanks, hon) and jump in the car for a drive to Tulsa two hours away.

As I slip into a parking spot, I smile at the women around me–laughing, walking, carrying purses and Bibles and cell phones. We're here for the Extraordinary Women conference.

My dear friend Reese meets me in the lobby. Have you met this girl yet? You need to. She's got a smile that lights up a room and when she says she'll pray for you she really means it.

Another dear friend of mine is here too. I smile as she steps on the stage. Lysa Terkeurst tells us of how we can have hope no matter what, how we can trust the divine Author writing our story.

These words come from her mouth and stick in my heart…

Our job is obedience.

God's job is results.

How quickly I forget. I think of all the worries stacked high in my list this week. I imagine all the to-do's that are still to be done. And it seems God whispers to my heart…

There's nothing I've brought you into that I won't also get you through.

After the conference, Holly, Lysa, Reese and I meet for coffee. We chat over steaming cups about words and women and ministry and what God's doing in our generation.

As my friend and fellow DaySpring writer Trieste says, by the time we left our cups were empty and our hearts were full.

We all need each other.

To laugh, to pray, to share our hearts.

I couldn't find my car in the parking lot. I had a spot on my jeans I kept hoping no one would notice. I got us lost on the way to the coffee shop even with a GPS. Yes, ma'am.

But it didn't seem to matter.

And I drove home remembering what really means the most in life–relationships.

Loving God and each other.

Daring to take steps of faith together.

I'm so grateful to live in a time when connecting with each other can happen when we get in a car and drive a couple of hours or when we simply get on a computer and click a link. The distance between hearts just keeps getting shorter.

And wherever you are this morning, I'm whispering a prayer of thanks for extraordinary you and sending a little extra love your way…

by holley

Rain on me by holley gerth

* Update: Congratulations to C Nash and Lisa Marie for winning a copy of my book, Rain on Me, in the giveaway below!

Who has encouraged you lately? Answer by leaving a comment before midnight on Friday the 11th and you'll be entered to win two copies of my devotional book, Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times–one for you to keep and one to share! (Subscribers, remember to leave your comment by clicking the link below instead of replying to the e-mail.)


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How do you measure a life?

How do you measure a life?

In moments?

At 87, he'd had far more than he thought he would.

In memories?

Through the years he'd made so many good ones.

I think a life is best measured in love.

And if that's so, my Grandpa Red had a full life indeed.

Armstrong 50th
He slipped Home to Jesus last weekend with much of our family, including me, close by. If there's fishing in heaven, I like to imagine that's what he's doing now. As my Dad said, he just won't be able to fib about the size of his fish anymore!

Grandpa Red not only knew how to catch fishhe knew how to catch hearts too

He caught my Grandma's when she was only 15. They were married almost 65 years. In this world, that's a rare accomplishment indeed. She said by his bedside, "Looking back, I really can't remember a time when I didn't love him."

Grandpa Red knew how to throw out a joke or just the right line and land it in your day when you needed it most…

As kids, he'd take out his dentures and declare,"No cavities!" Then we'd all laugh and laugh. Even in the nursing home where he spent his last years he was a favorite–crowned King on Valentine's Day, loved by many for that twinkle in his eyes and sweet smile on his face.  

Grandpa Red knew how to reel in the right kind of relationships–good friends and close family ties… 

His hands weren't afraid of hard, honest work. His heart wasn't either. He knew how to weld, how to make a car go again, how to make a grandchild grin…how to make things (and people) better.

Grandpa Red knew how to cast his faith and sink it deep in a way that got him through his share of hard (and happy) times…

His faith brought him through the Great Depression, raising two children and three nephews, battling ill health for years at the end of his life. He had the kind of faith that doesn't always make a splash on the surface but you know it's there and it's real.

I stood in his room with my Grandma, Dad, Mom, Aunt, Uncle, and husband in the minutes after we'd let him go into the arms of Jesus. We talked of his life, how he made a difference in our family, told stories. And in the most unlikeliest of moments, we even laughed. Because that's the legacy Grandpa Red gave us.

Sonic is a fast food restaurant in the South. They have a happy hour for cokes and other carbonated drinks. And where my Grandma is, there is always Sonic too. As we stood in that sacred place, I kept reading the words "Happy Hour" on cups.

And slowly, through tears, I began to realize…this is the gift Jesus gives us. That death is not something to be feared. Instead it's transformed, redeemed, given back to us as the happiest hour when we go Home. Not because we're good people but by faith in Him.

Oh, yes, those left behind grieve. Of course we do. Even Jesus wept. But somehow knowing that we don't ever do so without hope makes all the difference.

Grandpa Red, thank you for your life. We love you. We'll miss you. See you on the other side…

p.s. I'd appreciate your prayers for our family this week, especially my Grandma.


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Why we really do need each other…

Why we really do need each other…

Dining Room Table photo by wanderingone The laughter rings like church bells around the table, calling me home. I fill a plate and slide into a seat. These faces, these women, have walked the hills and valleys with me.

We're not in a sanctuary (or are we?) but at a kitchen table. After a week of being snowed in and fighting the flu, my voice feels rusty from disuse.

We swap the usual questions, "How are you? What have you been up to?" Answers range from casual to confidential without a thought.

We are safe here.

The food on my plate slowly disappears. I find myself saying, "I feel full." And then I realize I'm not talking about the food at all.

I'm talking about my heart.

"You are the salt of the earth," said Jesus.

My world has felt a bit bland lately. Now I understand why. You see, when I struggle I sometimes do the opposite of what works best.

When Sharon left this comment on my post at (in)courage, I nodded in understanding:

I find myself asking God to help me remember the tiny moments, enjoying the detail of each one and enjoy it to the fullest. Resting in the moment and not getting over stressed about what I may see coming on the horizon. Not to sit on the couch…I am finding that the sitting on the couch is an enabler to my depression. To keep busy, focused on what matters, doesn’t give me time to wallow in self-pity and therefore I spend less time being overwhelmed and drowning in pools of depression.

When I'm hurting, I withdraw. When I do so my plate may not be as full but it sure isn't as satisfying either.

I'm learning how much I need the salt of my brothers and sisters–the salt of tears shed together, the salt of sweat when we work side by side, the salt of a smile cracked at just the right moment to make the world right again.

I need that salt even in (especially in?) my wounds. 

That's how we heal.

I look up from being lost in my thoughts. My friends, these beautiful women from my church small group, have their elbows on the table, forks mid-air, sentences splitting the air with life. "Holley, aren't you going to eat the rest of your food? What are you thinking about?" 

I lean across the table and smile.

Suddenly, I'm hungry for more.

written with love for you by holley

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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?



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

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{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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