Jen's Journal

Jen's Journal

U R My Safe Place (The True Shades of Real Love)

This is an open letter to my husband, in case there are any women out there caught in shades of grey.

U R My Lover, and I’ve loved you in a thousand ways. I’ve known your strength like arms carrying my lifeless body limp. I’ve worn our weaknesses like second skin, the way marriage brings them to the surface. I’ve laid my head upon your chest when it has been the only place on earth that I can rest.

Real Love (me and my cowboy)

U R My Friend, and when we are tangled in the bed sheets, you have always been gentle with me. Our children have been born from tenderness and faithfulness. Never, not once, has there been fear or shame on those holy sheets of ours.

Fifty hues of that kind of love makes a lifetime to be proud of.  Not just moments of pleasure — a legacy of the real love that makes families last.

Fifteen priceless years ago, I floated down the aisle fixed on your gaze, magnetic.

U R My Safe Place

True Love

I smirked on our wedding day, the videographer caught it up close, how I shrugged and grinned sheepish when the pastor said pressure would come — was bound to come — and how in the hard times the hard choice would be to love harder.

That magnetic pull followed you over hills as big as Texas, into five homes where you made us a good living.  We moved cross country and started over, grass greener, while demons chased our heels hoping to take us out when we weren’t looking. (They didn’t succeed.)

With hearts raw and torn, we made love, fighting with heaven for our wedding day to win when all odds were against us. Whether in plenty or in want, we made more love than losses, and we made love win because we chose it. 

Oh ya, 50 hues of that kind of love. 500.  5000. 5 million, More. Unquenchable, the way real love reaches for each other in the times when you are being torn apart by the mess … when the bravest thing is to hold on, to hold tight, and take a bulldozer through the uneven earth so grace can rain over all the beat-up parts and all the less-than-perfects and wash what’s not complete.

What if Gospel Grace is the language of the bed sheets we share? What if the ring around our finger is the ring of God’s love around us when we don’t think we can go on?

When the dreams get shaky and could crumble and the gaze gets lost in the pain of two imperfect people wanting perfect?  Then what?  Then Jesus.

Fixing our gaze on Jesus, makes us love the perfect kind. The kind of love tethered to the God who makes all things possible. God gives us the heart to love in the face of a not-so-perfect life, which doesn’t look like postcards or magazines or movies that don’t always paint the picture of true, messy love.

True love is perfect because its faithful and it’s gentle and it’s real and it’s grace-filled … and it’s safe.

“His eyes are like doves besides streams of water.” (SS 5:12)  Bed sheets warm and holding us in God’s embrace, I pass through those eyes and dive beyond the enigma of what I’m not, and for that moment all the world around us disappears and all is complete and it doesn’t matter that we haven’t followed all the rules.

Jennifer Strickland Wedding

Jennifer Strickland Wedding Day Pure

Shane and Jennifer Strickland Wedding

What matters is U R my Safe Place.  This is holy matrimony. This is beauty, and this is God in you and through you showing me I’ll never be alone.

U R My Best Friend because I picked you when the picking was real — when the pressure came like a tornado hissing in the wind, when it was the bravest choice and the very, very best one — to love long, and to make it last even if we had to make it all over.

“Keep dreaming, baby …” you said to me in the morning light, like you don’t even know what it’s meant for you to let me dream, like you don’t even know you are the one who gave my dreams wings because you let me forge this crazy path, getting all torn up trying to find my way, because you knew I just had to make a road where there wasn’t one before.

Fifty hues of real love: being safe to dream, knowing your hands will never hurt me, that “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me,” that “Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” (SS 8:3; 7)

How about picking love when my body changes and I don’t look like that girl on our wedding day and on some days I don’t feel like her either. How about love that lasts through that too? How about 50 shades of it, five million more.

We who press in to Jesus are pressing on. We are believing that love is made up in moments and made to last through time, through the endlessness of time, all the way into eternity, when His love fills in all the gaps and makes all things well and right and whole.

Fifty hues of that kind of love makes a lifetime to be proud of.  Not just moments of pleasure — a legacy of the real love that makes families last.

Real Love (me and my cowboy)

To my Husband: thank you for being My Lover, My Friend, my Safe Place. 

Forever and Always,

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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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