We caught up with Holley Gerth to talk about her new audiobook You’re Already Amazing. The interview was recorded and be played below. Enjoy!
Announcer: Welcome! You’re listening to an exclusive author interview brought to you by christianaudio.com.
Vicki Morgan Intro: Hello and welcome to the conversation! I’m Victoria Morgan interviewing for christianaudio.com, and we’re going to use our imaginations a little bit, in honor of our guest author, Holley Gerth, who’s written an incredible book called “You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.” And we’ll be talking about her audiobook today. But I want you to pretend that we’re in a cozy little coffee shop, having a discussion among friends, because Holley loves to relate to people in that intimate way. In fact, she designed her website to be like an online coffee shop, where women can go to “share hearts, explore dreams, laughs, encourage each other and celebrate what God is doing.”
So I’m sipping my coffee here while I introduce Holley. Holley served as a writer and Editorial Director for DaySpring for over a decade. Since then, God has led her in a different direction to write several books of her own, including the audiobook we’re discussing today, “You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.” Now, this audiobook has grown into a life study that over ten thousand women are participating in, and she’ll tell you more about that later.
After Holley began blogging she co-founded a terrific site called (in)courage, and that’s spelled I-N and then the word courage. She also has a master’s degree in counseling and enjoys being a certified life coach. She loves, as she puts it, “listening to folks and cheering them on.”
Apart from the literary world, Holley is married to Mark who is, according to Holley, somewhat of a saint. They did struggle with infertility for a while, after which time God blessed them with an adopted daughter Lovelle, who is now in her twenties.
So welcome Holley! We’re glad you could make time for us. I know you’ve got coffee in your hand and some insight to share.
Holley Gerth Comment: Thank you, Vicki. I’m so glad to be here.
Vicki Morgan Question: So, Holley, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you have the gift of encouragement!
Holley Gerth Comment: I hope so. All my life, that has been something important to me. I’ve wanted to encourage people and just help them know the truth about who God says they are.
Vicki Morgan Question: So, God planted that gift in your heart as a young girl, in your grandparents’ bookstore! What was it like to have that relationship with God through His Word at such an early age?
Holley Gerth Response: It was really a gift. And like you mentioned, my grandparents had a bookstore, so I grew up as the little girl with big stacks of books, who’s reading and reading and dreaming of one day being a writer. And I also got to see that lived out in the lives of my grandparents. They were two wonderful people. I’m named after my grandpa, Grandpa Hollie, so he helped me grow in my faith along with my Grandma and they also are responsible for my love of pie and coffee.[Laughter]
Vicki Morgan Question: And you do like coffee very much. But not all of us have heard from God. We’re not sure how, or if God even wants to use us. Some of us didn’t get the calling as a little girl, or we don’t have the courage or the tools or the power to pursue our true calling. How will your audiobook, You’re Already Amazing, help us to free our hearts from those limitations?
Holley Gerth Response: Well, I think we all have those struggles. Even me, growing up like I did in a Christian family, there are still days that I think “Does God really love me? Does He have a purpose for my life? Do I have anything to offer?” And I think that’s because we have a very real enemy that would like to convince us of things that aren’t true. And so, in the book I have specific tools to help us, when we’re wrestling with that, to discover our strengths and our skills and Who you we’re called to serve, and also to really address those lies that we hear and replace them with truth. So I think it’s not a matter of “if” but “when,” [laughs] and so I hope this book will just help prepare us for those moments a little bit better.
Vicki Morgan Question: It’s just such an encouraging book. I’ve been to your website. I’ve read through some of your blogs and you are so encouraging. But speak to the woman who is saying to herself, “Well, that’s nice for you, Holley, and that’s nice for you all women out there, but I personally am exhausted. And I’m surrounded by people who need me to be there for them, and I don’t have the time to pursue my dream. I’m trying so hard to be the best I can be, to meet my responsibilities here where I’m needed. So, what will happen when I go gallivanting off to pursue my “true calling”? I don’t want to leave my family in the dust.” So there’s this woman that’s torn apart between her responsibilities and this dream that God planted in her heart.
Holley Gerth Comment: Right, and I can definitely relate to that, that feeling of being exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling like I just have too much to do. And this book actually came out of a season in my life that felt like that. I was working full-time. I was going to grad school. I was thinking about becoming an author and I was saying “yes” to everything and everyone. And God really brought me through a season of just refining and defining, and that meant understanding better who I was and what He was specifically asking me to do. And that actually freed me to say “no” to a lot of the things that I’d taken on out of guilt or fear or the desire for people’s approval. So it may seem like, oh, one more thing. But actually, my hope is that at the end of this journey that woman can say “I have been able to lay so much down. I feel so much freer. I feel so much lighter on my journey.”
And I find that usually our calling is what’s right in front of us. We always think it’s out there, across an ocean, or it involves some big change in my life, but over and over again in my own life and in the life of lots of other people I’ve taken through this process, it’s usually right in front of us. And so this isn’t about adding more. It’s actually about surrendering that desire to do more and be more and have more and instead just really focus on the things God has specifically equipped and empowered us to do today, right where we are.
Vicki Morgan Question: And I love that you say “specifically,” because there are some things that we should be saying no to but we say yes to for whatever reason, out of guilt or because we think God is going to want us to do that. In fact, one of your excerpts from You’re Already Amazing says that we don’t have to live stressed-out, exhausted lives. You say, quote, unquote, “It’s time to stop being so tired. It’s time to discover our true identities. It’s time for us to really believe that we’re already amazing.” I get that you’re giving us permission, but where do we find the key to this freedom? Will you help us open the door in that book?
Holley Gerth Response: Yes, absolutely. And I think it all goes back to saying, God, tell me who I am. There are so many voices in our lives and this world that would like to say “this is who you are, this is who you are,” and it’s easy to listen to those. But I think it’s about just going back and saying, God, who have you created me to be? And Psalm 139:14 says “I praise You because You’ve made me in a fearful and wonderful way.” One translation says “An amazing and wonderful way.” And so when we look at who we are, it leads to praise and not to pride, and let’s just have a firm foundation we can stand on, when everyone else is trying to tell us who we are instead.
Vicki Morgan Question: And that’s brings you to my next question, because online there I fell in love with your Strength Test. It’s one of the ways that we get to test whether we’re really following what God really wants us to do. And you’ve put together a set of questions and checkpoints, as sort of a plumb line to help us figure out if we’re living how God intended us to live. It was an eye-opener for me! How did you come up with this list? Did you do it for yourself first and then share it with others?
Holley Gerth Response: Well, I have worked as a counselor and a life coach and also just engaging with women at conferences and different things, and I found over and over again that it’s so hard for us to talk about or even recognize our own strengths, and I’m that way as well. Even when I was a counselor, I had this intake form with all these intensely personal questions. And the one that was most often left blank was, “What’s one of your strengths?” And so, I wanted to provide a tool where different strengths were listed out and women could say, “Oh, I do have that. That’s a strength.” Or they could hand that list to someone else they trust and say, “Hey, I cannot even figure this out. Can you circle some things so that I can begin to see what strengths I may have?” So it’s about taking this big thing, what are my strengths, and making it simple and doable.
Vicki Morgan Question: And that list is definitely worth checking out. It’s helped me a great deal. I think everyone should listen to it on audiobook, find it on You’re Already Amazing, work through study guide that you’ve put out. But now, let’s go a little bit deeper. Here’s a tough question. I used to work at a pretty famous counseling center myself, and we heard a lot of this, where a mom would call and she felt like God had meant for her to go on missions trips to the Sudan, or something. She got married too young, in her opinion, and feels like she missed out on her true calling, that the train kind of past her by, and now she wants to leave her family for a year or two and become a missionary. This happens a lot. What would you say to that woman, again who feels like she missed her calling, she’s too old, or she chose the wrong life for herself?
Holley Gerth Response: Yeah, I remember having a very similar conversation with a counseling client as well, and she just said, “You know what, I feel like I’ve wasted so many years.” And I thought, “What about Jesus?” And I asked her that, too. He became active in public ministry at 30. Why didn’t He do that at 16? It seems like He could have gone to seminary, or He could have traveled the world instead of staying in His little hometown, or He could have done all these things that maybe our modern world would say, oh, that’s a much better use of the Messiah’s time. Really? You’re going to put Him on Earth and give Him three years of public ministry? It’s ten percent of His life. But for whatever reason, that was what God wanted Him to do. And I think it’s because unlike us God values what we might call small and unseen and ordinary, and it’s not about applause, it’s about faithfulness.
And so, I would say if you’re in carpentry years, if you’re changing diapers, or going to meetings or serving behind the scenes at your church and it feels like it doesn’t matter, it absolutely does to God. And that actually may turn out to be the “big calling” … for many us it is. And if it is, then that is beautiful in God’s sight. It’s not so much about what we do, but it’s about our obedience and our love that is behind it.
Vicki Morgan Question: And we need that kind of encouragement from others who feel like maybe their lives are insignificant or what they do for God is insignificant. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s where your online support communities come into play. I think it’s very important that when we go through You’re Already Amazing study, that we don’t do it alone, that we have that coffee shop, that online coffee shop to go to. So, please share with us where we can find this encouragement and support online and maybe a little bit about what people can expect when they get into the study.
Holley Gerth Comment: Yes. My site is holleygerth.com. And I do hope it feels a bit like a coffee shop where you can just come as you are and have conversations with friends and be encouraged and catch your breath if you can. So you can find that online and also the study is created to go through with groups because I do believe that we are made to process truth and life together. And I know I have days when I cannot remember what is true at all, and I have to text or call a friend and say, “Hey, remind me of the truth.” Because I can’t feel it, I don’t see it. It’s like I’ve never heard it. And so, understanding that we are better together, that we don’t have to have it together, but we are better together is a big part of how we grow in this life.
Vicki Morgan Comment: Well, I wish that you and I could just sit down over coffee and brew a whole pot and keep going! But we can’t, because we do have busy lives and I’m so glad that you are around to pour your heart and your words and your encouragement and your God-given ability into our lives, and I love having your online coffee shop to hang out in, to read and share my thoughts and dreams with other women. Thanks for setting all these up.
And also, I just want to say that at Christian Audio we are very proud to be the publishers of your audiobook, “You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.” There’s a lot in that title. And just thank you for setting all this up for us, and for joining us today.
Holley Gerth Comment: Thank you, Vicki.
Vicki Morgan Outro: Find out more about Holley Gerth’s audiobook “You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be” at christianaudio.com. If you’d like a free audiobook every month, just go online and join our mailing list. I’m Victoria Morgan. Thanks for listening!
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