When God Sends a True Friend

The conference area was crowded, but I made my way to a table at lunch and sat down by myself to reflect on the morning’s sessions. I wasn’t attending this event as a speaker, not even as a pastor’s wife, and I was there completely alone; I didn’t know a soul at this church. LeRoy had stepped out of the pastorate a few months before, and I hoped to find some answers at this conference.

This conference filled with “happy” women highlighted how lost I felt.

I’d been isolated and in a dark place for so long that the laughter and lively conversations around me were startling. We’d been in the desert land for a few years now, wandering through a wilderness of loss and confusion, and I was groping for hope. I was young to already wear the stigma of a “former” pastor’s wife.

Little did I know that God was going to do something at this women’s event that would impact me eternally. God was about to move in and provide me with the gift of a true friend. I want to use today’s post to feature my precious friend. She doesn’t have a clue I’m doing this (I’ll ask forgiveness later)!

In God’s gracious providence, Holly Elliff sat down beside me at that conference lunch table and asked if she could eat with me. It was our first conversation, one that would be followed by more than two decades of opening our hearts to each other, deeply connecting, and getting to God in sweet prayer times. We’ve dug out truth from the Word together, and for me, Holly’s friendship has fulfilled the charge from Hebrews 10:24 to “stir up one another to love and good works . . .”

Do you have a true friend in your life?

When Holly opens her mouth, you can be assured that truth and grace are going to flow out, coming from a wealth of life experience and years of saturating herself in the Word. Many times throughout our friendship, I would call her when I was in a weak condition—whether it was in the years of marital misery, during a difficult season in our church or with our children, or in the last hours before my dad stepped into eternity—all I had to say to Holly was: “Tell me truth.” And she would pour truth into me, covered with love.

But our friendship hasn’t been spent only in the trenches of pain, Holly and I have also had years of laughter together. We are part of a group of friends that call ourselves “The Sisterhood” and we intentionally plan for monthly prayer calls and yearly retreats together. It takes some effort, but we’ve enjoyed a rich community of friendship this way. I’m grateful that I can call on any of these women, day or night, and they jump in to hold up my arms, cover me in prayer, and speak truth and grace to my heart. (I encourage you, if you don’t have a group of iron-sharpening-iron friends, start one!)

Serving Others Isn’t Just a Slogan for Holly

When Holly stands on a platform to challenge women to live out Scripture by humbly serving, it’s not a shallow cliché. Holly has logged decades of serving others. She was only 37 years old, and pregnant with her fourth child, when she began caring for her mother-in-law who had Alzheimer’s disease. That was the first loved one with a debilitating mental condition that Holly cared for, but it wouldn’t be the last. Four children later, and a few grandchildren as well, brought the need to move her mother from Nashville for Holly to care for her through a long and difficult decade with Alzheimer’s.

Self-sacrifice has been a way of life for Holly since her journey into motherhood began. She educated her eight children, balancing mothering with her many other responsibilities as a pastor’s wife. She has discipled hundreds of women in her church, served as a member of the praise team, plus led the women’s ministry, all while staying deeply connected to Bill, the love of her life. Today, she intentionally invests in her 12 grandchildren (the count will be 14 little ones under 10 years old by this July) and she continues to juggle all of that (quite capably) with her many ministry responsibilities.

Gracious wisdom rolls off Holly’s tongue when she opens her mouth to counsel a woman in distress. I’ve been with her, many times, when women have approached us at a conference, and watched as Holly was able to gently guide the woman through a series of carefully issued questions, to help clear the confusion and get to the root issues. She always points women to the sufficiency of Christ and the dependability of God’s Word.

Not Wasting her Life

This week, Holly shared with me that for the first time in 39 years, their home is empty of children (that’s almost four decades of child rearing, folks!). She is asking God “What’s next?”

Holly’s not planning European vacations or considering vegging on the couch in front of HGTV with a sack of chips and a Dr. Pepper (from Sonic, of course!). She’s asking God—where do you need me to serve next? A lot of women in her age bracket are only focused on how they can serve themselves, how they can coast the rest of the way, or hop in an RV to cruise the nation, while ministry is left in the rearview mirror.

But not Holly.

Holly’s heart is to spread the gospel and serve others, whether it’s while she’s on a grocery run, or on a platform before thousands. She gladly shares the Word with a single woman, a houseful of hungry college students, or at a conference where women need to hear from a woman who’s been there. (She and I often have the opportunity to sit down and visit with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about the critical need for women to live out the Word and you can listen to one of those recent broadcasts from Revive Our Hearts by clicking here.)

Holly is in a season where God can use her to spread wisdom and a life message, and I look forward to watching what He has for her in the coming years. She’s been a gift to me personally, and I wanted to share her with you. If your church needs a speaker for a women’s event, you can email me (through this website) and I’ll connect you. Or you can find more information on contacting Holly by clicking here.

This video that Revive Our Hearts produced a few years ago will allow you to get a glimpse of Holly and you’ll see why I treasure her so much:

If you’re reading this post, and it has stirred a longing in you for a friendship like the one Holly and I share, I encourage you to begin asking God to lead you to friendships like that and to use you to be a friend like that in women’s lives who desperately need a truth-speaking confidante.

You might find these blog posts on friendship helpful (click here).

Do you have a friend who you’d like to voice appreciation for in the comments below? If so, I hope you’ll let us know about your friend and share this post with her, or just let her know today how thankful you are for her!


  • Kathy

    What a blessing a friend is! Just for anyone else out there who is in a season where friends are few, know that God still loves you. It is hard when we want friends. We can try to be good friends, but our society (and too many believers) are so very busy. Not many make the time needed for good friendships to get below the superficial level. I continue to pray for friends, but I also keep reaching out to love those around me who are alone or in need. I’ve decided that even though God doesn’t seem to be sending me the friend I think I need, I can be a friend to others and love them as I want to be loved.

    Thank you for sharing your story of this precious friendship!

  • Leanne

    What a blessing this post is about precious Holly!!! The Lord has used her (and YOU) tremendously in my life over the last few years, and I’ve been so humbled by the time she has made for me to talk with me across state lines despite her busy schedule pouring into the lives of her family, church body, and women everywhere!!! What a testimony she is (AND YOU) to the Titus 2 series Nancy is teaching on this month as well as her book ADORNED. Both of you are precious wiser, wonderful women who are IN DEED adorned with the gospel and so intentional about living it out and passing the baton. The impact you’ve made for the cause of Christ and His advancement in the lives women everywhere is more far reaching than you will know this side of heaven! I’m so thankful for both of you and also for the opportunity to pour forth into other’s lives what I’ve learned from you!! I love each of you dearly!!!

  • Terri Manning

    My friend Beth has become not only one of my most cherished gifts from God but she has surpassed friendship to what I am now calling sistership. I can’t think of anything better. She is walking through hard times with me and yet we find a lot to just laugh about and enjoy one another’s company as well. So much more than I would have thought to ask God for when I was transplanted away from home to my new home — southern ocean girl living in the mountains of PA – a fish out of water but with a friend that brings me the drink that helps quench my spirit. That is my Beth, my sister in Christ and my very fun “sister”. Thank you for Beth Father – please bless her and everything she does – In Jesus Name — Amen

  • Lara

    Leanne, I was going to tag you on this post but I see you have already discovered it! xoxo. You have indeed gleaned from these two women much wisdom, and I am ever thankful for you pouring into my life, in addition to countless others. You will never know the extent of the impact you are making this side of heaven. How blessed you are to have these two women in your life!!!! Love you! xoxoxo

  • Julie Musil

    It sounds like you’ve been a blessing to each other!

    Recently I’ve been reflecting on how my current struggles have brought such beautiful, godly women into my life. And I’m so thankful for that!

  • Jody

    I recently listened to a ROH podcast on friendship. I was encouraged by the thought of we all have Elizabeths, Marys and Marthas in our life, which thanks be to God I have. I scratched a brief list of each category, wish I could remember where I put it!! I do remember the names, and I have set out to send notes to each one telling them of my gratefulness to them for their friendship. They are spread throughout the country because of several pastorates we have served in. How rich I am by the women God has by his mercy put in my life. Thank you for sharing about Holly and your sisterhood. God is good in the many lavish gifts He gives us.

  • Pauline Butler

    I so appreciate this message, Kim, and the video. What a treasure of a friendship the two of you share. I am thankful for the many friends God has blessed me with, especially in the past 15 to 20 years. But there is one friend in particular that God sent to me at a very lonely time in my life. I know she was God’s special gift to me, an answer to prayer, and she remains so to this day. You and the Revive Our Hearts/True Woman ministries have impacted my life tremendously. You, too, are God’s special gifts to me. Thank you for being a friend!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Kathy ~

    Yes! Thank you for sharing some wise counsel on friendship and for your encouragement to readers who are lonely right now. And, I totally agree that we are too busy, at least I am . . . it takes intentional effort to cultivate deep friendships and that takes time.

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    And we love you, Leanne! You bless us as we watch your responsive heart to God’s truth. So grateful for the ways you are pouring that truth into other women’s lives and daily into your little ones. You are one beautiful TRUE woman!

    Love you, friend ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Terri ~

    So thankful that our gracious Father sent Beth to you, what a sweet testimony of His faithfulness! (I hope you shared this post with her :))

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    What a faithful Father we have, to supply the support that He knows we need. I’m so glad, Julie, that you have godly women in your life. I’m sure they treasure you as well 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Jody ~

    What a gift those hand written notes will be for those precious friends! That is a love language near and dear to my heart, and one that is practiced so infrequently today (Kathy’s comment on being too busy comes to mind).

    Thank you for sharing, friend!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you, Pauline, for this precious comment. Your kind and encouraging words are a personal gift to me here on this site. Thank you for sharing your testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life! Thank YOU for being a friend 🙂