Stephanie Holden: A Well-Watered Woman

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You may know her as Honey, you may have seen her adorable style and wondered, "How can she really be a grandmother and look that cute?!", or she may be a complete stranger to you. She won't be one for long, though. Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to our friend Stephanie (or Honey, as her family calls her). She is wife to Nick (or "the Preacher"), mom to Elizabeth, Lydia and Lauren, and spiritual encourager to all who follow her over on Instagram as she shares her stories as a preacher's wife, mom, grandmother, daughter, friend and expert painted-wall finder with humor and joy that is truly contagious.

Introduce yourself as if we were on a coffee date! Tell us about yourself. Would you be drinking coffee or tea? 

Hi I’m Stephanie, but most people know me as Honey these days. I'm just a girl who's been redeemed and likes telling people about what He’s done.  I'm a southern girl who married her high school sweetheart and almost thirty years of marriage later, I'm more in love with him than ever. The Lord blessed us with three daughters who are now all grown up and married and living in different parts of the country. But I LOVE to travel so with God's grace and a good attitude I chalk up their living hours upon hours away from me as a good thing.  We call it #makingthebestofouremptynest.  We group text through out the day and I consider them my best friends (after their daddy, of course) and I am loving this season of having adult daughters. I also have four grandchildren which is where the name Honey came to be and they are seriously a ton of fun. Nick is a pastor of a little church out in the country and we live right next door in the parsonage. Being a pastor’s wife is a total honor and I’m just extremely grateful for the life God has given me. 

When did you start following Jesus?

Well I grew up in church, like most good southern girls do.  Was involved in everything church related..but I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus. I could tell you a lot of knowledge about Him but I was still empty.  It wasn't until I was 26 years old when He made Himself known to me and saved me,  I fell in love with Him and His Word.  My life has never been the same since. It's probably a good time to tell you that at age 16, I became pregnant with our oldest daughter, you can read a letter I wrote to that 16 year old girl here if you'd like to here… 

Nick and I got married while we were still in high school.  With God's great grace and the prayers of my momma, we did not fall prey to teenage pregnancy statistics.  We beat the odds because God does factor in the odds.  He's so much bigger and He had a glorious plan for us.  He interrupted both of our lives at age 26 and then a year later called Nick into ministry. I've been a pastor's wife now for almost 19 years but that's a whole other incredible story of redemption.  

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What is your definition of a Well-Watered Woman?

A woman, who because of her deep love for Jesus and daily indulgence in His word, is one who is thriving right in the place God has her.  In the midst of whatever season she finds herself, because she has life giving truth that sustains her...That directs her.  That grounds her. She's filled up and ready to spill out what God has given her to help those He’s put in her life to impact and influence.  

How do you give Jesus the first moments of your day? 

We start off each morning with our coffee and quiet time. I'm in a different season than many women and moms who may be reading this.  We are in our empty nest and our schedule is not as demanding as it used to be.  So we can linger in God's word a little longer. But even at my busiest, I made it a priority to read God's word before my day got started. At times I had to set my alarm to get up before the rest of my family.  But it was always worth it and I pray I set an example to my girls when they were still in my nest.

What sort of spiritual season do you find yourself in now? What verses are you clinging to in this season?

I feel like I’m in the beginning stages of a season of a harvest.  Nick and I did the hard stuff in our marriage when our lives were the busiest.  We always made time for each other and kept our relationship at the forefront of our lives.  We knew the day would come when our girls would be gone and our days would be less busy and full of demands.  That seemed so far off back then but we are here now.  And we are experiencing a harvest …in our own marriage that is still vibrant and full of passion and in our daughter’s lives as we watch them navigate through being a wife and mom themselves, emulating a lot of things they witnessed in our home.  That is humbling.  But don’t think they don’t emulate some of our bad habits too. Thank goodness we are all a work in progress, growing in grace daily. 

I’m also in a spiritual season of availability.  Because of fewer daily demands on my time, the Lord has opened so many unique doors for me to share my story and minister to women that I could never have imagined.  He even sent me to China a couple of years ago to travel with a young mom to adopt their daughter when her husband couldn’t go because of work. I didn’t see that one coming! lol.  The verse the Lord continually uses in my life in every season is Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race WITH JOY and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”    I want to be like Paul…not thrown off course by my circumstances. I know when I’m loosing my joy in my calling, my purpose, a wife, as a mom, as a pastor’s wife, a friend, then I am usually making things about me.  This verse has helped me get back on track time and time again. 

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What intentional daily habits help you remain rooted deeply in the Word of God?

Nick and I have been reading a chapter a day of God’s word together for years.  We did this as a family and now we do it with our church family.  We don’t actually read it out loud together but we are all on the same page and it keeps us accountable to one another.  We often discuss things we’re  discovering and it’s been such a great way to hide God’s word in our hearts.  Nick encourages us to give away what we read to someone during the day…just talk about it out loud with someone.  I have found that when I give it away, I begin to “keep it” too.  It sticks with me when I discuss it. I have become better at meditating on what I read too  because I’m not rushing to read a big chunk all at once.  I have no idea how many times we’ve actually read through the entire bible through the years but since we’ve started this method, I have grown so much deeper in my understanding of God’s word. Nick call’s it “Nesting with Jesus”…being fed mouth to mouth first hand directly from God’s word.  (He shares daily on his instagram feed @nickholden and many folks have joined us in reading a chapter a day.  It’s been crazy watching God spread this all over.)

Who is a “well-watered mentor” or example in your life, and how has she helped you become a well-watered women?

My mom. Hands down.  She has been through some of the hardest things a woman can walk through...losing a husband, losing a son, dealing with wayward kids all on her own as a single mom. Yet she is one of the most joy filled people you will ever meet. And she'll be quick to tell you her "secret" is her date with Jesus every morning at 6am.  We all know not to call her before 7 because that's their time.  She is currently going through one of the hardest seasons of her life and when we first talked about what she was facing she told me this…”I don’t understand this and I don’t like it but one thing I do know.  Because of this, I will know Jesus even deeper and in a way I’ve yet to experience Him.  And THAT I am looking forward to.”  So you can see why she’s my mentor.  I’m so incredibly thankful for her influence.

What books are you currently reading or have you recently read and would recommend to our community? 

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Right now I’m reading Jess Connolly’s book, Dance Stand Run.  I’m taking my time and soaking up her wisdom.  I think it’s a timely word for women today and I find myself saying “Yes and amen!” on just about every page. Jess’s passion to see women living and walking in ALL that Jesus has for us is inspiring, convicting and contagious.  I love how God is using her to advance His kingdom and break chains.  Such good stuff.  The other book that I always recommend is a super quick read about a subject that is so misunderstood in our society.  It’s about biblical submission and it’s titled “ Why is she Smiling: Unexpected Joy Discovered by a Most Unlikely Submissive Wife” by Amy Williams.  I have given SO many of these little books away.  You can read it in one sitting and Amy writes with humor and you feel as if she’s having a cup of coffee with you.  

If you could tell every woman on this blog one piece of wisdom what would it be? 

Oh man.  Just one? lol.  Well, the truth that has changed my life the most lately and the one I find the Lord has me sharing most often is this….  Quit enduring the season or situation and start embracing it instead.  When I finally quit going to the Lord and asking Him to fix situations, everything changed for me.  I began to live in the kind of contentment that is saturated by his peace.  I realized I had been merely enduring seasons of my life until the hard thing passed but God wanted me to embrace it for all He wanted to teach me in the season.  This was a game changer.  Because I’ve come to experience in my own life, some of the things we want God to “fix” are actually here to stay.  And I don’t want to just survive these things…I want to thrive in midst of them…because of them!  

Where do you find your identity, and how is it different than where you may have placed your identity in the past?

Well. one of the perks about growing older is the fact that I think we become more comfortable in our skin and more confidant in who God created us to be.  So yeah, we get gray hair and wrinkles and we sag in places we don’t like, but God compensates us with a wisdom and confidence that exudes this wonderful kind of beauty that only comes from Him. I look at things through eternal eyes now more than I used to and desire to honor Him with my time now more than ever.  Where when I was younger and in the middle of raising kids, my identity was often wrapped up in all the things I was doing instead of who I was being. If that makes sense. It was harder for me to say no back then, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I wanted to meet everyone’s expectations.  Now I know saying no is part of God’s daily purpose for me.  There are certain things, good things, that are just not meant for me.   Intimacy with Him and discernment has given me the peace to say because I know He has a different assignment for me.   I don’t know if that really answered the question lol, but it’s where my heart went to first.