Photo of Inspirational Quote

Tears of Joy!

Redeemed & Restored: Tears of Joy!

There’s something about reading your story out loud. I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on me. So many times I had to stop and gather myself, take a deep breath, allow the tears of joy to flow and then restart again. I believe the process of recording an audio book is another part of the healing journey. It was just that cleansing!

I’m typing this on the last day of a week full of recording 3 books. First, Ross and I recorded Together for a Purpose: Love and Mission in Marriage and Ministry. On day two, I recorded an updated and revised version of my first book written 20 years ago, formerly titled Consumed by Success, now entitled Empty at the Top: Exposing the Spiritual Dangers of Multi-Level Marketing. Then, on the last day and a half, I recorded an updated version of Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God.

Throughout the week there were many times I was moved to tears of joy as I recounted God’s faithfulness as well as tears of pain reliving the hurtful words and emotional abuse I endured in the cult. But today, reading the last four chapters of Full Circle, was just stunning as I retold all the ways God restored me in such intimate and personal ways. Here are the words that I struggled to speak overcome by the reality of the love of God poured out on my broken life. Each one is a snippet from the manuscript but exactly where the cleansing tears came that brought yet another dimension of healing to my heart:


It’s day four of a sailing adventure with the Holtz clan, and I am sitting on the bow of the thirty-foot Tertian Quid, the sailboat Ross has owned for about fourteen years, thinking about the faithfulness of God. And, unbelievable as it sounds, when Ross bought it, the boat was named The Athena. He changed the name of the boat, but the curtains on the inside still have my name—Athena—embroidered on each one of them!

It was as if they were waiting for me to come find them. God knows my name! He knows all about me. And He knew I would be sailing on this boat one day—a boat with my name embroidered on the curtains!


God chose to save us. Nothing we did, or didn’t do, changes this fact. He chose us, we didn’t choose Him! He chose to save us rather than pour out his anger on us.

I had lived in a man-inflicted delusion that I had to constantly prove myself to Him. I had to check off my spiritual to-do list to show I was worthy of God’s love and salvation. And the truth was, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t prove I was good enough—because I wasn’t and never would be. His grace is all I need. All I have to do is rely on His sacrifice, and the blood He shed on my behalf. For this, I am so very thankful.

Every day I live this new life my gratefulness overflows. The farther I get from my former disabling legalism, the more my love for Christ fills my soul.

I don’t have to try to stop and think of Him during my day . . . I can’t help myself!

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)


After I told her, [the potential landlord], what I was coming out of, she said, “If you want the place, it’s yours. I won’t call anyone else back, and I’ll take the sign down right away.”

I hadn’t even seen the interior of the house yet. But I told her, “I can tell just by seeing the outside that I will be happy with the inside.”

I clearly sensed the hand of God all over the situation.

I agreed to meet the owner on Sunday morning before church to take a look. When I spoke with her, it was like visiting with a longtime friend. She had moved into the house during a traumatic transition time in her own life and had created a sanctuary out of it.

“I can tell it’s the perfect place for you with everything you’ve been through.”

I felt very much as if God had set this up and orchestrated all the details.

As we chatted I said, “I’ll be furnishing it a little at a time.” Laughing, I added, “I don’t have any furniture or anything.”

“Well, do you like what’s here?” she said with a smile. “I can let you use whatever you would like.”

I felt lightheaded and almost at a loss for words. The house was decorated exactly as I would decorate a house if money were not an issue—the colors, the furniture, the lighting fixtures, everything down to the smallest detail. I was stunned at God’s goodness. To say He had provided for me would be an understatement.

My friend and I went to church and then returned to meet with the owner to work out all the details. Later that week I moved all my earthly possessions—mostly clothes and books—into what felt like a bed-and-breakfast, a charming sanctuary, a place of rest. The master bedroom had French doors opening onto a small pond with a waterfall and a lush garden blooming with colorful flowers. It felt surreal. The Lord was restoring to me a sense of home, with the gift of these elegant and classy surroundings.

The house brought refreshment to my soul. The sense of favor and love I felt from Jesus was stunning.


The first time I went to Ross’s house was for the 2014 Super Bowl, when the Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos. The house was a hundred years old and had exposed, old-growth, straight-grain fir beams that were full of character, which I loved. The rooms were filled with warmth and laughter, family and chaos. Photos and mementos of Cathy and the grandkids were scattered across the walls, and the bookcases were filled with old books, giving a rich feel to the house.

The den had become a storage room over the years. Ross had made it his room after Cathy passed. He picked a brick red for all four walls and two shades of cream for the crown molding and ceiling. He even had the built-in drawers rebuilt. He couldn’t possibly have known that I would have chosen the same color paint for the walls. But God knew!


WOW. This week was one of the most rewarding weeks of my life. Speaking for almost 20 hours about the goodness of God was healing, encouraging, restorative and incredibly redeeming.

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb / redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.

—Frances J. Crosby

What stories in your life bring you tears of joy? I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for spending some time with me today!


Athena Dean Holtz
Welcome, I'm Athena!

I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.

Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!

The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.

Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!

Search the Blog

You can read Athena's Archived blog posts below!

New Book Release

Full Circle