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The Spirit of Christmas Lives On (how to keep your candles burning for the New Year)

This Christmas post from last year rings even truer this year.  As we rest, reflect, and renew our focus on the year ahead, enjoy a quiet read…

“Christmas is over, baby,” I said nonchalantly as I buckled  little Sam into his car seat, his legs dangling long.  “It’s time to go back to school.” 

“Christmas isn’t over in my heart,” he said, boldness rising. “In my heart, Christmas just happened.” 

Isn’t that what we all want? 

Do we just want to go back to the grind, unchanged and unrenewed, only to repeat the same patterns that sunk us into pits too deep to scale?

Or do we want this year to truly be new? 

Sam knows the secret: the baby Jesus born in the messy hay gives us a chance for God to “make all things new” every day.

We had no perfect holiday. Laughter and squeals of delight ricocheted off the walls but so did tears and cries. 

After the hardest heartache, I heard the Holy Spirit clearer than I did through all the wrapping, telling me that at the end of this was a bran new day. At the end of every heart break and heartache is a chance for grace to reign.

   

All things can be made new — and sometimes that happens only when everything falls apart, when we fall back on our knees and remember the scandalous love that is Christmas.

Thanks to Christmas, our halls became mysterious playgrounds for nerf gun wars, slam-dunk basketball, and light-up makeup mirrors (trust me I don’t get near those things, but our 15-year-old daughter loves hers!). Thanks to Christmas, our counters overflowed with socks and new jammies and bath goodies and the aroma of peppermint and pine.

And thanks to Christmas, the kitchen filled with a whole new set of cooking supplies from Santa. (New recipes coming in the next blog — including the best meatloaf ever!)

I love to cook and absolutely love to feed all the kids that come in and out of our doors, and this year the kitchen has been a constant turnaround of friends and family. We don’t tire of making something new, and neither does God.

I see on Facebook there are friends disappointed with their 2016s; they posted things like “grieved, saddened, worn out, exhausted . . . need a new season.” 

God is for you, friend. He will never leave you or forsake you. He can take a dark and broken road and turn it into a sunlit trail.

After that one-day-gone bad, I asked him to receive me the way He did way back then. And He did. Christmas happened just yesterday in this heart of mine.

As you walk forward into the New Year, may the lights on the nativity still flicker. And may you remember the one born in the barn that day is looking for room in your heart this year.

May you open the gate, let him in, and let him grow within you, making all things new, not just once a year, but every day, all year through.

Love,

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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

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

“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”

Nancy Ortberg

Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church

“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”

Allie Marie Smith

Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made

One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”

Thelma Wells

Thelma Wells, D.D. (Hon), President of Woman of God Ministries
As a teacher, participator, and observer of public speaking for most of my life, I’ve come to realize that many speakers make one of two mistakes when interacting with their audience (especially when that audience is mainly teenagers.) They either expect their audience to climb up to their level (which feels unattainable to the crowd) or they step down to the level of their listeners (which feels cheap and pandering.) The best speakers meet their audience where they are and lead them up to where they want them to be. This feels genuine. This is what Jennifer did over the last few days at our school.
Jennifer Strickland is a funny, engaging, dynamic speaker. She shares truth with authority and credibility that comes from both experience (her story is powerful) and an obvious depth of study in the Bible. The ideas she presents about Value, Identity, and Purpose are truths everyone needs to hear.
I heartily recommend her for your conference, school retreat, or any event where you want your people to be encouraged and challenged with deep, impacting truth.

Andrew Doan

Andrew Doan, Concord Christian Academy, Concord, NH

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