Embrace Fiercehearted Living

The Fiercehearted come in all shapes and sizes on this day, and their beautiful faces circle the table from all ages and stages of life. A gray-haired woman sips orange soda facing a 96 year-old faith warrior who prays fiery gospel truth over our meal. Our hostess chows down at one end of the table, mounding up joy like the whipped cream on her brownie pudding cake as if the cancer that has dogged her steps for ten years were only a minor inconvenience. A missionary on home assignment contemplates aloud the challenges of living on both sides of an ocean, but it’s clear that she is among the company who have borne seed with tears but now rejoice over a harvest.

In her manifesto scribbled in the dim light of an airplane seat, Holley Gerth has drawn the boundaries wide and grace-filled for who gets to wear the the name “Fiercehearted,” and her words have found their way into a book she never intended to write.


When Holley disembarked from that plane, she walked away from unhealthy peace-keeping behaviors, signed up for counseling, and committed herself to the “brave, hard thing” of acknowledging and dealing with conflict in healthier, peace-making ways. For her, that was Step 1 of learning to take grace — not just for salvation, but also for making a way through a life, lived fully.

Fiercehearted is a series of essays devoted to one woman’s journey of learning to love her successes and her failures by grace alone. Digging into its pages like a prospector, I collected bright nuggets for the reader who has become tired of feeling controlled by fear, of living alone with her imperfections, and of being shackled to continual striving. Hear and believe these gentle reminders that God is tender toward your brokenness and stands ready to cover you all over with His righteousness:

If rules and systems for prayer don’t help you, let them go!

“I love my husband very much, but if someone gave me all kinds of rules for how I had to talk to him, it would stress me out and shut me up. I would become focused on my performance instead of our connection.” (72)

Stop imagining that you can somehow control how other people will respond.

“There’s no escape hatch from being an opinionated human surrounded by opinionated humans.” (90)

The church is an appropriate place for freedom and for fun.

“[W]e can sometimes intellectualize faith to the point where learning takes the place of living. . . We are not just minds. . . . We want to feel fully alive.”



Holley invites readers to embrace freedom in Christ without fear; to sing from the depths of our hearts and our lungs; to laugh together and to forget about how “important” we are;  to enter into joyful celebration. Or even to enter into a crazy photo booth at a church celebration!

The true gift of fiercehearted living is the freedom to admit to imperfection, to accept it in those we love, and to live genuine, messy, and imperfect life in community.

“[S]ometimes it’s inconvenient and annoying and downright exasperating to be human. But it’s what we’ve got to work with. So perhaps one favor we can do for each other is to not believe anyone has it all together . . .In other words, we all need more kindness than it seems.” (124)

Holley’s words have tumbled onto the page at just the right time for me. Coming down the home stretch on raising a family of boys, I’m thankful for a new baby granddaughter who will need to see what strong looks like. There will come a day (sooner than I can imagine!) when she’ll need to swap stories about brave faith and audacious ministry — and she’ll realize that Bam’s house is never as clean as she’d like it to be.  Turning the last page, I’m praying for another generation of fiercehearted women who realize that God has already equipped them with everything they need for a life of living fully and loving bravely.


This book was provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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74 thoughts on “Embrace Fiercehearted Living”

  1. Michele,
    Like Holley, it has taken me a long time (and I’m still a work in progress) as far as embracing my imperfect self. I tried being perfect and following legalistic ways and it is not a road to freedom, but a dead end. Also, trying to let go of wanting to be in control and “fix things”. I like when Linda Stoll said in one of her posts that she was resigning as “Fixer-in-Chief”….needing to do that myself.
    Blessings Michele,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michele. I love that line close to the end about living out fiercehearted faith and courage for our grandchildren. I thought, ‘yes, I want to do that!’

    I find it a bit awesome when I realize that they live it out for me.

    A little child will lead them …

    Meanwhile I’m continuing to pray that God will use those 5 little women and 1 lone guy to minister for Christ powerfully, that there’d be seats at the table for them and wide open opportunities to use their gifts in the way God’s shaped them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review (as always)! Loved the book as well and have purchased and given out a number of them! I feel much the same for my granddaughters (already growing too fast at 23, 16, and 14)!


    1. I need lessons from you in grandmothering girls, I see. My tiny grandgirl is so small and quiet, peaceful compared to her boisterous big brother and all the uncles. She’ll find her voice, I’m sure. 🙂


      1. Ah, yes, we surely can talk about that! Each one of mine is delightfully different. The 23 year old is not an RN after graduating with her BSN in May. She is a redhead who loves to sing and is passionate about her own ideas. Her goal each day with her patients is to help them have hope by something she says or does. She loves to laugh and loves all things Jane Austen, Downton Abby, pearls, and vintage things.

        The 16 year old is a slim tall beauty who loves to sing, write, and cook. (She already writes a monthly column for The Potter’s School online.) She is very bright, but has some executive challenges that is making her into a fierce hearted young lady to accomplish her goals. She loves to go for coffee with me and is currently very “into” fashion.

        Our 14 year old is as bright as she can be with a wit to match. She was the one who faced serious back surgery last summer and trust me, she is tenacious and fiercehearted as they come. She is preparing for her blue belt in karate, plays the violin, is a big animal lover and a great lover of musical theater. She loves to sing, reads voraciously, always beats me at checkers, and vies with her older sister for coffee dates.

        Each of these young ladies was or is home schooled, but most importantly love the Lord. Each has already participated in some sort of ministry at church and our nurse worked at a church camp for three summers where the kids loved her.

        You have an amazing ride ahead of you! Shopping for each one takes me to different stores and departments. Each prefers certain colors and styles. And so it goes…😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only recently read Holly’s blog to any degree, through a link to her Coffee for the Heart linkup, so I saw this mentioned there. Thanks for sharing about it! Fiercehearted is not a way I would describe myself naturally, but there are ways I want to be more like that. I can identify with much you’ve shared. This quote especially stood out to me: “[S]ometimes it’s inconvenient and annoying and downright exasperating to be human. But it’s what we’ve got to work with.” I admit I get exasperated with myself and, I am sorry to say, with my fellow humans, but how we need to extend kindness and grace to each other.


  5. Such a great book and such a wonderful review. Reading Holley’s book came at the perfect time for me too. I love how my own brave faith journey has been bolstered by Holley’s words about fierce-hearted women.

    I’m glad you had the chance to finish Holley’s book. I purposely have chosen not to be on many book launch teams but Holley’s was an exception that I’m glad I made the time for.


    1. Yes, Holley’s book is a gift, really, and I was thankful to be given the opportunity to read it. It’s been a blessing to share in the experience of reading it in community, too.


  6. Oh Michele! I love your intro and would give anything to have been at the table with those dear women you describe. Fiercehearted warriors. Thanks for sharing your takeaways from Holley’s book. I’m putting this one on my list for sure. (BTW: PRICELESS photo. I love it!)


  7. Holley’s book is on my to-read list! I loved the manifesto that she wrote on the plane. So, so good. I’ve launched some kids as well, though I still have several at home keeping me going, so I know about that transition season! Blessings to you today, Michelle.


  8. This sounds like a book I might enjoy. I certainly love the quotes you shared. I am not a religious woman, but I am spiritual and learning to be fierce. Life is seldom easy, but it is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I found this on Wonderful Wednesday.


    1. Thanks for keeping an open mind, Christie. I’m glad you are experiencing the beauty of life that accompanies the struggle. My experience has been that this is enhanced and the journey toward fiercehearted living is enabled through relationship with a loving God.


  9. I’ve been curious about Holley’s book, Michele, so thank you for giving us a sneak peek into where she bravely travels, so that we can go there as well. Also thank you for your vulnerability regarding this issue. Even older moms like us struggle with these same kinds of issues.


  10. Love the picture at the photo booth! How fun! Looks like you’re living this: “learning to take grace — not just for salvation, but also for making a way through a life, lived fully.” I’m sure Holley’s book is super inspirational. Hopefully I can get to it myself one day.


  11. Thank you for sharing the review Michele. I ordered Holley’s book over the weekend and I am eagerly waiting for its delivery! I’ve read so many wonderful reviews. I just can’t wait to read it!


    1. I’ve read a lot of reviews as well, Robin, and Holley seems to have hit on a means of expression that resonates for lots of women in different stages of life. I hope you’ll also share your thoughts!


  12. Oh, Michele—I’ve been wanting to read this book so much—and your review only makes me want to read it more. Can’t wait. Holley’s words are always peace-giving. Thanks for sharing your review. xoxo


  13. What an excellent review as always! I was on Holley’s launch team for this book and I looked forward to reading each chapter. I loved learning about the difference between peace-keeping and peace-making. What a fun picture of you!


  14. “…being shackled to continual striving.” Oh my, yes. I’m feeling this right now. Michele, Holley’s book sounds like one I need to add to my list of “things to read if I ever get done with this marching band season.” 😉 Thanks for putting it on my radar. Stopping by from #Grace&Truth.


  15. I LOVE Holley Gerth. I haven’t bought the book yet, but it’s on my list. But more than that…I love that picture of you and your husband. I think that need to be your profile pic : )


  16. Wonderful book review. Perfect for me – the people pleasing peace-keeper! 🙂 Thanks, Michele, for linking up at Inspire Me Monday and for always writing quality, with passion!


  17. This sounds like an incredible, powerful book, Michele! Thank you for sharing it, and your review, with us at the Hearth and Soul Link party. Hope to see you at the party again later today. Have a lovely week!


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