Tag Archives: failure

Review: Fiercehearted, by Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted, by Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted, by Holley Gerth (Revell, 2017)

I have so many lines in this book highlighted! Some because they’re comforting, encouraging, or challenging, and others because the word pictures are beautiful.

A few favourite lines:

In the introduction, Holley Gerth writes that she wants the book to help women

…feel less alone and more comfortable in our God-sewn skin and a little surer that we are a force to be reckoned with in this world. [Kindle location 189]

It’s in these moments that we carry wonder and fear like twins. [Kindle location 2080]

We’re all just clay on the wheel, which is another way of saying we are dust being sculpted into glory. [Kindle location 2214]

I found author Holley Gerth through Ellen Graf-Martin’s Change Makers Podcast, and have been appreciating her email newsletters and posts ever since. When I saw the digital version of her book, Fiercehearted, discounted recently, I snapped it up.

With short, conversational chapters transparently reflecting the author’s life experiences, Fiercehearted touches on topics common to many women: conflict avoidance, identity, self-worth, insecurity, success, perfectionism, expectations, failure, work, depression, friendship, and more.

Highly recommended for Christian women, and especially for those who appreciate the writing of Emily P. Freeman, Carolyn Watts (Hearing the Heartbeat), and Ann Voskamp.

For more about Holley Gerth and her ministry, visit holleygerth.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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When We Get into Trouble

“Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”
Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
John 18:26b-27, NLT*

Peter loved Jesus. I’m sure he wholeheartedly meant his earlier vow that he’d never deny his Lord. (Matthew 26:31-35)

Yet here he was, doing that very thing. Matthew’s account says Peter’s denial was so intense it involved cursing. And that when the rooster crowed and he realized what he’d done, he fled, “weeping bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75)

Why did he do it? Was he afraid? Or was he trying to stay “under cover” in case there was a chance to rescue Jesus?

Whatever his motivation, Peter’s denial came because he was acting on his own initiative and in his own strength.

Isn’t that when we get into trouble, too?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT*

Our best intentions can blow up in our faces. Peter’s experience reminds us how important it is to learn to listen to and rely on the Lord. He also reminds us of Jesus’ loving forgiveness when we mess up (see John 21).

Our God and Saviour, Your grace to forgive is beyond our understanding, but we receive it gladly and we rely on it often. Teach us to walk closer to You, to trust You instead of ourselves. Slow us down to listen before we leap. Make us people after Your own heart.

What better prayer than Matt Maher‘s “Lord, I Need You“?

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Guest Post: My Identity is Broken

My Identity is Broken

By Jessica Everingham

Insignificance. Failure.

Few words chill me like those two. I hate them even more than doing my taxes.


I’ll tell you, though I know this story won’t put me in the best light.

I’ve always enjoyed that there was something a little different about me. In school, it was simply that I was bright and everything came easily. After school, it was my job as a journalist. Everyone thought that was interesting.

Now I’m a boarding school mistress and aspiring author. The school doesn’t pay very well, but I love the kids and it allows me time to write. Besides, very few people work in boarding schools or write books—and I do both. I like that. I’m also still a volunteer journalist and spent the past weekend working on the media team at the Easterfest music festival. People paid attention to the media lanyard around my neck. It was cool.

But this week I’m having to face a fact: my part-time job and ‘unpaid career’ aren’t making any money. And since I’ve had no luck getting back into paid journalism, I need to go do something boring like flip burgers or answer phones. Anything that pays.

I don’t like the thought of having a boring job. But what I really hate is the possibility that if I never get my novels published, the boring job could be my whole career. I could be a completely normal, nothing-unusual-about-her, regular old person.

[Insert gagging here.]

It’s a sobering thought, but so is the fact that my identity is way more wrapped up in my work than I realized.

I only posted about God and identity a few months ago on my own blog. It was actually the first post I wrote that started attracting views. It kick-started my blogging journey. Yet here I am four months later, realizing that without an ‘interesting’ job my sense of identity is shattered.

I also know, deep down in myself, that my writing career probably isn’t going to move very far forward until I sort this thing out. I can feel God prodding, showing me where I need to change. And I know that if I get the ‘success’ I crave tomorrow, it could easily destroy me.

If I had overnight success, my identity would only become further intertwined with my career. I would become proud. I would also dread the day when my book sales dropped and I moved from the ‘successful’ category to ‘has-been’. That fear would motivate me to put writing ahead of relationships and even God. And on the day when my fear came true, it would sink me into the depths of despair.

That’s not a future I want.

I already know that God wants my identity to be in Him. Why else would He say,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”? (Mk 12:30 NIV, emphasis mine).

He wants all of me. And if I was as focused on God as what that verse says, I wouldn’t be so worried about my own sense of identity.

If that verse isn’t enough, here’s another:

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39 NIV)

Would I be happy to lose myself, if God asked? Could I walk away from my computer and writing career?

With my current mindset, that would be pretty difficult. Since I don’t like the thought of being dependent on a job for my sense of self-worth, I think it’s time to change.

Which is all well and good, but…how?

Well, Jesus tells us that ‘apart from Me you can do nothing’. (John 15:5 NIV) So Step One is asking God for His continued help. And while I’m at it, I’ll ask Him to keep pointing out these areas where I need to change.

Step Two will be keeping the above verses in my mind. I need to spot those wrong thoughts when they come and use the Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) to stab, slice and dice them away. It might take a while, but we’ll get there.

It almost seems silly for me to let go of my drive to succeed. After all, ‘success’ is our holy grail. The people we most admire are the ones who have success in their families, businesses, ministries and general life.

But in the long run, I know this is going to be freeing. I’m still going to work hard. But if things don’t pan out, I will know my life is still significant, because it’s been spent in relationship with God. I won’t be weighed down by my fear of failure or my dread of insignificance. I’ll have the courage to just be God’s follower—nothing more, nothing less.

And that is both the most humble position and highest honor in the world.


Jessica Everingham

Photography by Kali Brumpton

Jessica Everingham is a journalist, blogger, boarding school mistress and aspiring author. She is 22 and lives in sunny Queensland, Australia. She loves connecting with people via her blog, Consumed By Him, Facebook, and Twitter (@JessEveringham). Come say hi!

When Our Best isn’t Good Enough

Peter blurted out, “Even if everyone else is ashamed of you when things fall to pieces, I won’t be.”
Jesus said, “Don’t be so sure. Today, this very night in fact, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”
He blustered in protest, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” All the others said the same thing.
Mark 14:29-31, The Message*

Jesus has been preparing His disciples for what’s ahead, but it’s too much for them to grasp. Except for the traitor, their intentions are the best – but Jesus knows that won’t be enough. He knows how each one will fail.

He knows the same thing about each of us, and I’m so glad we have this example to keep us from despairing when we mess up.

Instead of condemning Peter – and us – Jesus takes on our unrighteousness so that we can find His righteousness in us. Pastor and teacher Charles Price says this is the heart of the gospel: “Salvation is primarily from unrighteousness to righteousness.”**

There’s nothing in me – in you – that’s worth much, but Christ in us is our hope of glory. He wants to grow us into His image, to direct and equip us to live worthy of His Name.

When I fail, He doesn’t turn me away. He just picks me up again and goes on working with me. I think it was The Shack that suggested God, instead of being put off when someone rejected Him again, counted it as one less rejection left until the person finally chose right. What a comforting perspective.

As the Apostle Paul would say, that doesn’t mean we should be slack and keep going our own ways. But if we’re doing our best and it’s not enough, we can rejoice that God isn’t finished with us yet.

Father God, You are holy and we worship You. Because You love us so much, we want to please You by living righteous lives. Thank You so much for the Holy Spirit who helps us, and for Your patience and mercy to forgive us and to continue the work You’ve started in each of our lives.

Our song this week can encourage us all: Brandon Heath’s “Wait and See (Not Finished With Me Yet).”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

**Paul: Moulded by His Message,  Charles Price (Kingsway Publications, 2001) page 116.