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.
Who’s your BFF? Who do you love spending time with? Who can
you call in the middle of the night when you need them?
I’ve found that good friends, genuine friends, are marked by
several characteristics. Let’s consider five of these traits.
Good friends listen.
Sometimes we need advice. And it’s great when we have wise,
insightful friends who will “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
However, there are other times, we simply need someone who
will listen—just listen.
My husband of over 35 years is an active listener. He
doesn’t just stay quiet and pretend to listen. He is my sounding board when I
need to pour out my heart. It’s such a blessing to have friends like
this—whether or not they’re also family members.
Good friends share
from their heart.
Another mark of genuine friendship is trust and
authenticity. When our friends trust us enough to share from their heart, it’s
a good indicator that our friendship is solid.
While there may be many people we refer to as friend who don’t open up to us, it’s a
privilege when they do.
Sometimes they’ll want our advice. Sometimes they’ll need us
to listen. We have to resist the temptation to turn the conversation back to
our own situation when our friends pour out their heart.
Good friends cheer us
Are you beginning a new adventure? A new challenge? A new
Our very best friends are there to cheer us on when this is
the case. They may be able to relate to our situation; they may not. Still,
they’re rooting for us. They’re in our corner. We can depend on them and call
on them whenever we need a boost.
Good friends facilitate
While true friends are good listeners, open up to us, and
cheer us on, they also challenge us to grow. They don’t so much demand growth
but facilitate it.
Good friends have a way of making us want to become better
people. They bring out the best in us. And they forgive us when we’re less than
our best—even when we’re at our worst.
We want to become better people when this kind of person is
in our life.
Good friends address
Do our real friends hurt us? Do we hurt them? Yes and yes.
Sometimes we hurt one another unintentionally. At other
times, for whatever reason, we may be intentionally hurtful.
Our very best friends will address the issue. It may be hard
for us to hear. It’s likely even harder for them to bring up. However,
friendships that endure the test of time are often marked by openness and
When we get close to someone, when we open up to them, we risk being hurt, but it’s worth it.
I am privileged to have many such friends and I’m thankful
for each and every one of them.
Now, that we’ve considered some traits of genuine friends,
let’s take an honest look at ourselves. Are we this kind of friend? What steps
can we take to become even better friends than we are today? Are we willing to
do the hard work, the work that reaps rich rewards?
When we get close to someone, when we open up to them, we risk being hurt, but it’s worth it. (click to tweet)
Good friends listen. They share from their heart. They cheer us on. Good friends facilitate growth and address hurts. (click to tweet)
Steph Beth Nickel is a communicator who seeks to Nurture and Inspire in her many eclectic endeavours: editing, writing, podcasting, etc. Steph coauthored Paralympian Deb Willows’s memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. Steph and Deb are working on a follow-up, tentatively titled Keep Looking Up. Steph is also a regular contributor to HopeStreamRadio. You can connect with her on Facebook or via email.
Last Saturday, I participated in my first-ever 5K running event (that’s 5 kilometres for my US friends, which translates to roughly 3.11 miles). This proves that God has a sense of humour, because I have never been athletic.
The Hillside2Haiti run is sponsored by a local church that regularly sends mission teams to Haiti to teach life skills. I’d wondered for a while about attempting a challenge like this, and when I saw the promotional material at another event, I recognized that the time was right.
I’d been running in the gym with my music, and now I started running on the streets around my home. Alone and content that way.
From the early stages of the Hillside2Haiti event, I ran with my friend Kim. I kept telling her not to slow herself down for me, but we found a pace that suited us both and by running as partners, encouraged one another to reach our dream goal of running the entire distance without taking walk breaks. (Yes, I know you can go faster if you take walk breaks. If you have enough stamina to go faster.)
Crossing the finish line was as surreal as signing my first novel contract. Despite my hopes, clearly some deep part of me never thought it would happen. Along the way, I observed a few parallels between running and the Christian life:
The participants came in all shapes, ages, sizes, fitness levels; some walked, some run/walked, some ran: we were all heading for the same finish line.
We swarmed out onto the road, stopping traffic: there’s strength in numbers, and together we can overcome certain obstacles.
A runner put on extra speed to catch us and return Kim’s headband, which we hadn’t known had fallen: help one another out, even when it’s hard work.
One runner stopped to fix a shoe: it doesn’t matter if something stops us, what matters is that we start again.
Those who ran in bursts and walked for brief recovery times finished with a better time than those who ran all the way; different people had different goals: pace yourself, set and know your strategy.
Some wanted speed time, some to run the full way, some had other goals: don’t judge someone for being on a different strategy; but do alert someone who has veered off the route.
Stopping to walk before you’re gasping means a shorter recovery before you can restart: be realistic about your abilities, while leaving room for God to stretch you a little farther than you think is comfortable.
It was a twisty, unfamiliar route, with no distance markers: not seeing how far we still had to go, or what hills lay ahead, kept discouragement away.
Previous running experience teaches you to slow down on the hills and to know you’ll recover on the flats: remember where God has already met us, choose to trust Him to do it again.
After slowing for hills, speed back up when you can: pace yourself, but beware the danger of starting to coast longer than necessary.
I thought we’d reached the end, but it was the start of a long, hard final stint; discouragement would have stopped me there, to walk the rest of the way, but my partner was still running: in disappointment, we need help to carry on.
There were water stations: take your own sustenance for the journey, but expect God’s provision en route.
We cheered for the children crossing the finish line on their race before ours started, and cheered on other runners as they passed us or came across the line after we did: we need to be encouragers, and it does something positive in us when we are.
Training for a race helps us run it better: remember the Christian life is a race, be diligent with spiritual training. Also, we train better with a goal, so don’t slack off because we don’t see trouble yet.
Good equipment helps: what spiritual equipment do we need?
Keep your sense of humour because there’s no dignity in the final stages of a race: don’t worry about appearances.
The sense of unity: isn’t that’s what it’s all about – the body of Christ, united in relationship with Him?
There was a big red start/finish arch: finally seeing the end in sight gives fresh energy.
The celebration at the finish line: “when we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be,” and yes, it may feel a little surreal.
Still with me? Give yourself a medal, and here are the biggest benefits I discovered about running with a partner:
we encouraged one another to keep going
we bonded through the experience and through sharing conversation
we distracted one another from the hardest parts
knowing that stopping would let the other down kept us each pushing on
under 38 minutes from the start, we crossed the line together
Janet and Kim: we have seen the finish line, and we can do this. Photo credit: Your Running Race Photos (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YourRunningRacePhotos)