By Karen L. Willoughby
Draper, UT – Holly Curby didn’t just write Face-Lift: Embracing Hope through your Heartaches. She lived it.
Set for publication April 28 by Koehler Books, a Virginia-based publisher, Face-Lift describes the many twists and turns that can happen along life’s journey, and how to walk in step with Jesus by taking the high road of trust.
“Ten years ago in April is when I felt like life shattered,” Curby told UI Connections. Each year after that there seemed to be another major trial.
“I turned to social media – Facebook – to remind myself to live. I could look back in those postings and see God’s hand at work in my life.”
Curby is the daughter of Jan and Jim Harding, who served Utah Idaho Southern Baptists for 30 years, culminating in Jim Harding as executive director of the two-state convention from 2000 to 2005. From them she learned to be grounded in her faith.
Three years ago, at the gentle yet continual encouragement of her mom, as well the hundreds of readers of her Facebook posts, Curby began the task of culling and compiling the posts that had illuminated her walk through life’s uncertainties.
As told in Face-Lift, it all seemed to begin when her husband wanted to end their marriage. After which, Curby wrote this:
“God can use every bit of who you are – from your pain and embarrassments to your joys and triumphs – since, after all, He is the ultimate author of your story. When we discover who we are and vulnerably bring to light our fears and failures, our passions and pains, our triumphs and tributes, it is then that we can humble ourselves and use our past not to define us but rather to see the hope that God has given and help us create that future. After all, ‘God can’t lift an unbowed head.’”
In Chapter 4 she writes, “A Sunday school teacher once asked us, ‘What will it take for you to stop serving God?’ The teacher then stated, ‘Whatever it is, Satan will use it to stop us.’”
In Chapter 5 she restates one of her dad’s truisms: “In times of trials, it’s what you do next that reveals your true faith.”
That’s in the chapter where she writes about her mom’s ordeal after ingesting lye. A story well-known to Utahns, a cleaning solvent used to degrease fried-on oil was mistaken for sugar and mixed with tea at a local eatery. Jan Harding took one sip and immediately spat it out.
Nonetheless, the damage was done. After being life-flighted to a Salt Lake City hospital, doctors determined a droplet of the lye must have gone down her esophagus with her saliva. Harding was in the ICU burn unit for a couple of weeks as a result of that droplet.
Curby used Facebook to update the Harding couple’s many friends on Jan Harding’s slow recovery. Writing her frequent posts was a catharsis with an unexpected benefit: Curby could read the posts later and see how God had been working.
“In a world with such an ‘everything is fine’ façade, we were able to be transparent with our heartache, find comfort in the comments to posts, and somehow provide a sense of comfort to others who were going through their own battles,” Curby writes in Face-Lift. “This was a revelation that social media, while it certainly has its negatives, can actually be used intentionally for positive impacts.”
She promised her mom the day she died of glioblastoma brain cancer that she would write the book her mom had been encouraging for years to write. That was three years ago.
Writing a book is one thing, Curby said. Getting it published is another thing altogether. She reached out to an author, who gave some advice, which led to another author, who gave still more advice: Get a literary agent. Develop a sizable – and multi-pronged – social media presence. Stay committed. Persevere.
“It can take a year to write a book,” Curby said. “A year to get a publisher. And then it can take close to a year to get in the [book printing and distribution] queue.”
Today, Curby is seen on at least seven social media platforms, a biweekly podcast (Holly’s Highlights), and a fledging YouTube channel. She chose Koehler Books upon feeling a peace and seeing God’s goodness when learning her contract signing date was her mom’s birthday, and the book launch was scheduled to be in April, which marks the ten-year anniversary of that initial feeling that life had shattered, a catalyst for Face-Lift.
It is available for pre-orders at online booksellers and also will be available in retail bookstores.
“I wrote this to remind people you are not alone,” Curby said. “Others have gone through difficult times too. And to encourage people that there is hope. No matter what you’re going through, you can go through it and thrive. Just walk with Him daily and grow in your spiritual journey.”
By Karen L. Willoughby
A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org