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U R Beautifying Us (How Hard Times Change Us for the Better)

“Oh, and Jen,” she says, “I feel like God wants  me to share something with you, that you need some Good News….”

photo by Lauren McKinnon

The news she shares is private, and it is Good News.

Her family has traversed tragedy, and trust was born. There are no predictors about this next chapter, but there is faith.

However large the risk, the worse risk would be not to trust, to bear down, to not lift up their eyes to believe that God is God — even when this path has hurt … so … bad. Through death, they dig into a deeper surrender, the kind that lays down on the bed sheets and trusts that all Creation is kept in a good God’s hand.

A few weeks ago, another friend calls and says she is so not happy with her body, so wanting change for the better. We talk diets and health modeled — the way real models do — in front of our daughters.

The next week, she’s on the hunt for real beauty that comes out of her mouth instead of from what goes in it. She want her words to her husband to be peppered with respect and not salt in his wounds. We talk about imperfections and how we all have them — and grace: how to honor the King who lives inside of the king in our homes, even if he’s not being …  kingly.  

Blundering through marriage when it gets hard bumps us into grace. Failing fosters forgiveness. Disrespect dares us to hoard honor, and losing the reign on our words forces us to wrangle in self-control. 

We clean the inside of our cups so the outside can be clean. Body image comes down to real beauty, and real beauty comes down to behavior, and we know it deep down.

Another friend is in quiet angst … will her husband ever get that job and relieve her of the strain? Will they ever gel again like they did when they were young, now with worries, and foregone conclusions that he’s gone most of the time, sometimes even when he’s in the room?

This lonesome place leads her to her knees. The grace she finds is the grace she gives. The compassion becomes the caring, and the wondering becomes the waiting. The load makes her such a light we all want to to hear her laugh, to brush up against her beauty.

Since she is faithful to One, God gives her the faithless. From loneliness comes love, and it bubbles out of her like a brook I want to sit by.

2015.16.17 U R Beautifying Us - Harold Navarro CC

My life has been its own kind of hard lately. The fear has made me flush out anxiety, the unknown has made me courageous. The pain has produced the  perseverance it’s going to take to stay the course on this narrow road. The hard moments have born more hope that I can put in letters. Through loss, I’ve become grateful for every gift I’ve been given. 

Best yet, the battle has left me confident in God.

So, friend …

Tragedy bears Trust.

Bitterness unearths beauty.

Loneliness leads to love.

and

Crises create Confidence.

And that’s how hard times make us (truly) beautiful.

*photos courtesy Lauren McKinnon and Harold Navarro.

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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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