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Beginning with Thanks and Praise

This week on Jen’s Journal, I’d like to welcome my longtime friend and sister Megan Carter to the writing chair.  Megan and I have shared hundreds of prayer calls across the phone lines over the years, supporting one another’s families and walks with God. Megan is a prolific writer, a genuine friend, and a dedicated mother of three growing children. Her family is near and dear to our’s, as we have sat on back porches with them many times. Megan and her family of five reside in Southern California where they look for splashes of joy, glimpses of grace, and love making memories as a family. 

It’s an honor to welcome her to the Journal this morning. . . .

We are well into that first week of December, when many hearts are pitter-pattering with excitement, anxiety, anticipation, stress, wonder, distraction, peace, and tension. The Christmas season is upon us and can represent the greatest Light for some or the deepest dark for others.

As the season begins to unfold, I find myself reflecting on the traditions our family holds, the ones we want to maintain and where our focus should be.  A good friend asked me yesterday if I started my day with praise and thanksgiving.  I hadn’t yet, so that’s how I started my morning today. My heart did wake up with praise. It was an old song by Maranatha music entitled, “He has made me glad” —
            
I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart,
I will enter his courts with praise,
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made,
I will rejoice for he has made me glad.
 
He has made me glad,
He has made me glad,
I will rejoice for he has made me glad.
 
Understanding the source of my gladness allowed me to then give thanks. I sit in silence until I can physically write down items, events, and people in my life that I can be grateful for.
 
Whether you have a heart that is fully focused on His Light today, or you’re in a funk that you just can’t get past, take to heart that if Jesus is the source of your gladness the result will be a thankful heart.
 
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:4-5
 
 
 
God is good all the time.  Will you give him the opportunity to make your heart glad today?
 
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About the Author: Jennifer

Jennifer Strickland is a wife, mom, TEDx speaker, and former professional model. She is the author of Girl Perfect, More Beautiful Than You Know, and Beautiful Lies, among other books and Bible studies that teach women their worth in God’s eyes. Since leaving the modeling industry, she founded URMore.org, a non-profit ministry that provides resources to hurting women and girls. Her favorite moments are found working on the family ranch with her husband, who she calls “the Cowboy”; in her kitchen, concocting a new version of her famous spaghetti; or spending time with their three precious children.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

The honesty that Jennifer uses to tell her story drew our young women in and captured their hearts. She provided them with practical tips that the women use daily to transform their lives. These decisions have caused them to do things differently. We loved her so much, we are having her back!

Chrissie Dunham

Chrissie Dunham, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX

Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.

Barbara Brown

Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA

Jennifer has the ability to make you laugh, cry, and see yourself as one of God’s glorious creations — and that is just her warm up! Once Jennifer starts speaking, all you want to do is listen, learn, laugh, and love her. She takes you outside of yourself while helping you see inside of yourself, and does it in such a way that you feel safe, empowered, and capable to embrace all that the Lord is waiting to give you. She opens your eyes and your heart to hear from God in ways you never have. She connects you with others who share similar life experiences — and shines a bright light on the pathway to forgiveness, love, and blessings. Jennifer is also an amazing mother, compassionate, loving wife, and loyal, dedicated friend. Any opportunity women of any age have to hear from her is a gift and one that will produce fruit in their lives.

Lori Kennedy

Lori Kennedy, Outreach Event Coordinator, Riverview Evangelical Church, Bonsall, CA

I just picked up my girls from school today and they both talked all the way home about Jennifer’s presenation. It was a BIG HIT with Middle School and High School kids (both boys and girls). My high school daughter mentioned that she was glad that for once, a speaker focused on girl’s topics instead of sports or boy topics. She said that Jennifer engaged with the boys and made them answer questions too. My middle school daughter said that everyone in the middle school was paying attention too, and that all her friends were very tuned into what Jen was saying. Both girls said that they thought it was fine that the boys were with the girls during the presentation because the boys “needed to hear this stuff too.” 

Mother of two student attendees

Mother of two student attendees of Jennifer's U R MORE school program for boys and girls

If you think Jennifer gets the attention of adults, just see how the teenagers respond! My teenage grandchildren said they wanted to hear more from her and that her book was the only one they’ve ever really enjoyed reading! If teenagers are informed, inspired, and desire more, does anything else need to be said? Jennifer is an unusual voice of truth, integrity, and dignity. She needs to tell the world about her experiences and her victory. She encouraged me, a 70-year-old great grandmother. So, from teens to grans she has something everyone can benefit from.

Dr. Thelma Wells, D.D.

Dr. Thelma Wells, D.D. (Hon.), Speaker / Author / Founder of the Ready to Win Conferences

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