The Lighter Side

A little baking confession

A little baking confession

Vintage Apron photo by Andrea_44 (flickr creative commons) I stand in the kitchen and stir. It's Good Friday and I'm making strawberry shortcakes–a household favorite around here.

I notice the dough looks a little thicker than usual but I stick them in the oven anyway.

Fifteen minutes later the timer goes off and I know something is very, very wrong.

Because those shortcakes are hard as rocks, y'all.

Did I mention my mother-in-law is in the living room and she is a fantastic cook?

I "pssst" at my husband from around the corner. He sticks his head into the kitchen. I point at the stones on the baking sheet where floury-sugary goodness should be. He picks one up and exclaims, "What happened to these?!"

"It's a mystery," I say, "It must be the rainy weather." He cocks his head at me and looks at the shortcakes with suspicion. I shrug my shoulders.

Several minutes later I realize what happened.

I put flour in the batter instead of bisquik baking mix. Yes, ma'am.

I confess to the in-laws and they howl with laughter.


So much for making an impression.

I call my Mother.

"Mom," I say, "I've started a new Easter tradition. I just made shortcakes and they're more like the stone that was rolled away from the tomb."

She laughs too.

I left those hard little lumps in a bowl on the counter for three days {it seemed like an appropriate amount of time}.

And every time I looked at them those silly things reminded me I'm human, that I make mistakes, and that grace is not only enough to cover my sin but plain ol' goofiness too. Happy Easter, indeed.

Yes, amen, and pass the stonecakes.

31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae ———————————————————————–

As the story above clearly shows, I am far from being a domestic diva. That's why I'm so grateful for wonderful women like Sarah Mae.

She just wrote a new ebook called, 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. You can find it here.


Have you ever had a cooking or other domestic mishap like mine? Please share and convince me I'm not the only one. I'll be forever grateful and I might just send you a package of stonecakes in the mail {bonus: they make great paperweights too}!

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

read more
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). 


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 


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.}


read more
Why you just can’t take me anywhere…

Why you just can’t take me anywhere…

Hearts and Stars photo by D Sharon Pruitt (flickr creative commons) I walked into the men's room.

I broke conference property.

And they still invited me back.

If that's not proof that the Indianapolis Christian Writers conference is a place of grace, then I don't know what is. The mishaps above happened two years ago (you can read about them in this post).

So as I packed my bags last weekend I determined in my heart that I would be on my very best behavior this time around.

I should have known better.

I'm proud to say I did steer clear of the men's room and the only property I damaged was my own.

At the airport, I let go of my suitcase handle for a bit and it slid all the way down the escalator. In slow motion. With people watching.




Every time I'd try to go get it, it would slide down a few more steps and I would go up a few more feet. Sigh. A sweet girl finally had mercy (after she stopped laughing hysterically, I'm sure) and brought my bag to me.

Friday evening I headed back to the hotel after teaching a workshop. I walked up to the desk and after looking at me for a moment, the girl said, "You're all checked in–here's your key." I hadn't even said my name.

I joked to a friend that I must be so famous that I didn't need identification now. Hahaha. Hilarious. When I got to my room, I took off my coat and realized I was still wearing my name tag. Yes, ma'am. That's how it works: if you wear a name tag in public then people know who you are without you telling them. Amazing.

And, finally, Becky (hello, dear Becky!) who is a Heart-to-Heart reader introduced herself to me at the conference. She even gave me a present–a fabulous candle that looks like a piece of candy. Y'all when she gave it to me I was tired and hungry. I was about to unwrap that thing and eat it right there when Becky kindly said, "Um, it's a candle." Bless you, sweet Becky!

At the end of one of my workshops I said…

There is a message inside you that only you can share.

We don't get a second chance at it.

There is no back-up plan in God's agenda.

You're the world's one shot at what God has placed within you.

I'm saying the same to all of you. You may not share it through words as a writer but you're called to share it in some way.

And the really good news?

It's about the message and not the messenger. And I continue to produce proof that if God can use me then He can most certainly use you.

Yes, amen, and pass the chocolate candle.


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

written with love for you by holley

read more
Ugly Truffles: A Heartfelt Confession

Ugly Truffles: A Heartfelt Confession

Chocolates photo by ricardo.martins (flickr) 

I’m not going to waste time making excuses, I’ll just come right out and say it…

Y’all, I am terrible at holidays.

Decorating makes me hyperventilate.

My gift-selection skills are challenged.

I can’t sing worth a hoot.

My one redeeming quality is that I can make some serious treats. Yes, ma’am.

So a few years ago I got a truffle recipe from a friend. It involves a package of Oreos, cream cheese, and melted chocolate.

Eazy-peazy, I thought.

So I slaved away in the kitchen making my confections, imagining that I would soon get a phone call that went something like this, “What, Martha? Did you say you’d like to have me in the studio tomorrow? Well, I already booked with Rachel. Maybe next year.”

Needless to say, the phone did not ring and it’s a good thing because when I got done…

To read the rest (including a surprising lesson God taught me) just come on over to (in)courage!

Subscribe by Email

read more

Conference Confessions: She Speaks

I've been writing some pretty spiritual stuff about my little trip to She Speaks. But you should know by now that I always do some sort of craziness when I go to a conference. For example, visiting the men's room and/or breaking water jugs.

So this year I made it all the way to Saturday without incident. And then…

Part of my role at She Speaks is to represent DaySpring and have appointments with people who might like to write for us. I always try to be on my best behavior for these sessions.

I sat in a little room with a divider down the middle. A very gracious editor from another publishing house was on the other side. During a break I typed away on my little laptop and all of a sudden it started going "beep!" each time I touched the keys.

Mortified at the ruckus I was causing, I stood up to take it into the hall.

Then graceful girl that I am, I tripped over the power cord, stepped on the corner of the tablecloth, and yanked that puppy off (along with everything I had on it) right into the floor.

Did I mentioned that I also had coffee? Oh, yes, my FULL cup of coffee went flying through the air in slow motion style. All that was missing was a soundtrack.

So everything landed in a soggy, brown mess. And the first thing that runs through my twisted little mind is…

I sure wish I had my camera so I could take a picture of this and put it on my blog.

Because I think about you all the time and everything is now material.

My sweetheart of a hostess, Sheila, came running in to help. I felt sure I would be escorted from the premises immediately.

Instead she scooted the table on top of the stain, smiled cheerfully, and said, "Why, it smells like a coffee shop in here now! Everyone is going to be jealous!"

All I've got to say after that is thank God for grace. And good Southern girls like Sheila.


read more
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 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…

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

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

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

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!

read more
Works for Me Wednesday: Quick and Frugal Homemade Cleaner

Works for Me Wednesday: Quick and Frugal Homemade Cleaner

Works for Me Wednesday

I've been on quite the serious kick lately so I thought we could all use a little fun and down-to-earthness around here. Kristen who blogs at We Are THAT Family has a fabulous feature called Works for Me Wednesday. If you haven't checked it out yet you ought to stop by her blog and do so. Women share tips about what makes life a bit easier for them (and we could all use that, couldn't we?).

So my Works for Me Wednesday tip is homemade multipurpose cleaner. You can assemble it in less than a minute with items you probably already have around the house.

Here's the recipe:

Quick and Frugal Multipurpose Cleaner

1 Spray Bottle

Fill halfway with water

Then fill to top with rubbing alcohol

Add a few drops of liquid soap

Shake to combine

You can use it to clean glass, kitchen counters, sinks, bathrooms, anything you'd like. And it's a lot cheaper than purchasing brand name cleaners at the store.

So there's my little tip for the day…what works for you? Share here or post a link on Kristen's site!

read more