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U R a Seed (how dying sprouts new life)

Baby Judah was born, died, and raised on the same day: A seed, sprouting to new life. 

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Bethany, the young mother you see here, posted this to her Facebook page:

He blessed us by opening his eyes so we could look into them and tell him how much we loved him, and we watched his heart beat for thirty minutes. He had a head full of hair just like his mama, eyes like his dad, finger nails, toenails, tooth buds, curled little ears set the same way as his dad’s, the sweetest little pink lips… all of the details the Lord had knitted were absolutely beautiful. The doctors told us months prior he had no nose bone, but Judah had the sweetest, most perfect little nose I had ever seen. He was nearly three pounds. And that little stinker pooped on me twice!!

Saying goodbye to my little love was the deepest, darkest hell I have ever experienced. That searing, breath-taking pain of loss, sickness, death and separation was not how the Father wanted this world to be…. I have never wanted eternity so much nor has it ever felt as close as it does now. A little piece of Adam and me is already waiting for us there, and his name means “passionate praise of the Lord,” Judah Rees. My love for him is still so strong, and I so wanted him and wish he could have been healthy and stayed with Adam and I. But as a mom, it brings me joy to think he never knew what pain, crying and hurtful words were. All he knew was love, and then went right into the most loving place in all eternity that blows all other earthly love away: the arms of the Father.

The crazy part, is all of that- the discomfort, months of morning, noon and night sickness, the horrifying news that took our breath away, the impossible decisions we had to make weekly, daily, hourly that tormented our very souls, the excruciating pain of labor…. was SO worth it. Judah was worth all of it. I would do it again for him.

That must be how Jesus feels about each of us.

The head of our ministry’s spiritual growth, Val: it is her grand baby, Judah, who died and rose thirty minutes after he was born. Shortly after his death, her text came in like clockwork:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21

You are a Seed, Judah Rees. You are a Seed, Bethany. You are a Seed, Val. YOU: DYING TO YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU WANTED IN THAT MOMENT; ACCEPTING WHAT IS WITH PRAISE ON YOUR LIPS; CRYING OUT TO HIM AS YOU CRIED; YOU ARE A SEED, DYING TO BRING PRAISE TO THE ONE WHO IS TO BE PRAISED.

You scattered seeds around the world with your faith. Your trust. When you refused to abort him, your faith brought him life, be it brief. Your repeated desire was: whatever brings God the most glory.

You wanted Judah to live and walk and run and play.  You wanted to bring him home and place him in a crib in brand new jammies with little frogs all over them, and wake in the morning to gaze at him all day.

BUT ABOVE THAT, YOU WANTED WHAT CHRIST WANTED IN HIS WORST, MOST HORRIFYING MOMENT: FOR PEOPLE TO BE REUNITED WITH GOD, ABOVE ALL ELSE.

Paul wrote about his –how a seed has to die before new life can rise. How dying to our flesh, denying our self-centeredness, losing our life, makes us LIVE.  Jesus said if we lose our life for His sake, we will find it. (Matthew 10:39) 

Jesus said

Jesus never promised every seed we scatter will grow. He just promised that he will provide seed to the sower. The seeds we scatter — whether they be seeds of hope, faith, praise, or promise — fall on hearts. If the hearts are soft, the seeds will sprout and take on new life in that person. If hearts are hard, the seeds will bounce off rocky soil and have no effect. If we let the vines come and overtake us — the worries of riches in this life — the sprouts will get choked out and die. Regardless, only God makes things grow. You and I just scatter seeds. God brings the life.

As for the body — it comes and goes. But you are a mother forever.

What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Val and Bethany, and the supermen behind them — you are seeds, and the way you handled the life and death of Judah made more sprouts grow in my heart. Today, I feel sure that no mountain is too great. No giant too fierce. No hole too large for God to level. No pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.  

Your heart is His heart. He put the thump, thump, thump there. He breathed life into those lungs of yours.  Keep the soil of your heart soft, so that when a seed scatterer comes along, it will fall on fresh soil, and new life will grow in you.

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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