Meet the “Sparkler of the Month” for May – Jenny Hanson!
Jenny lives in Saint Augustine, Florida. She attends Bartram Trail High School and is a member of Chets Creek Church at Nocatee.
Within 2 minutes of my phone interview with Jenny, I completely understood why her Student Pastor, Kristen Pepe, nominated her for “Sparkler of the Month!” Her confidence, maturity and love for the Lord was obvious. I was impressed with her immediately.
After speaking with various people in Jenny’s life, one thing especially stood out to me. Jenny unabashedly values her parents and their influence in her life. I would venture to say, it’s one of the sources for her confidence and assuredness. It’s an important aspect of life that many young people take for granted. Healthy relationships with parents are vital in the teenage years. In fact, Jenny and her mom have a Bible study together every week. They are currently doing the “Experiencing God” Bible study by Henry Blackaby, and they memorize scripture together.
Jenny actually wrote out her testimony for me! I loved every word of her writing, so I’m sharing it word-for-word:
“I grew up in a Christian home and was taught about Jesus and His love for me. But, I was almost 5 years old when I really understood that I am a sinner. I believe God sent His Son, Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and I accept the free gift of grace God has given me. That day I was having devotional time with my mom and sister. I accepted the Lord into my heart and I asked God for forgiveness for my sins. I am so thankful that Jesus died and rose again for me. Then a year or so later, I was baptized at my church and what was cool was that my dad got to baptize me. It was a very big milestone in my walk with Christ.
I believe that a testimony is not just a one-time thing that talks about past faithfulness of God from when you were saved. It is a continual public declaration of the daily faithfulness of God in our lives. Things come up that test my faith and require me to trust God’s plan, but God continues to be faithful. Looking through my prayer journal from when I was younger, up until today, I can happily say that God answered each one of those prayer requests and continues to have the best plan for my life. The next big step in my faith walk is where to go to college and what career to pursue, but I know the first thing in my life to pursue is Jesus and if I give it to Him, everything else will fall into place. He has always worked everything out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and He always will.
Currently, my go-to verse is John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” It is important to remember how important it is to take time to rest in the presence of the Good Shepherd. Our lives are filled with one problem after another, but there are more important things to focus on. Jesus has overcome the world, so I can have joy and peace!
God uses all of my daily problems to build by trust in Him and to continue His plan and will for my life. I have seen countless evidences of God’s faithfulness throughout my life and I am so thankful that He chose me to be His.”
Ummm….just wow! Wow! Just wow! What an incredible testimony from the pen of a 17-year-old girl!
So even if it’s not already apparent, let’s see how Jenny meets Glitter’s definition of a “Sparkler!”
She Adoringly Abides
I loved hearing Jenny speak about her Savior. Jenny’s Student Pastor, Kristen Pepe said, “She loves Jesus passionately. When she talks about Him, you can’t help but want to know Him too!” I, too, was moved by her adoration for Him. She almost brought me to tears when she shared her love for Cory Asbury’s song, “Reckless Love.” She told me she likes to dwell on each line and let the words speak to her about God’s love for her.
“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”
When I asked her about her spiritual disciplines or habits for “abiding in the vine,” Jenny told me she tries to simply make time with God a priority. As mentioned before, she does this in Bible study and scripture memorization. Jenny’s dad told us she’s hungry for God’s Word. But Jenny mentioned another habit of hers. She said “Whenever I see something astounding, I try to always stop and take a minute for gratitude and praise.”
She Selflessly Loves:
Jenny’s parents told me she has always been aware of the needs of others. They shared a sweet story of Jenny as a very little girl, reaching out to a timid gymnastics classmate. The little girl was too afraid to come out to the gymnastics mat, so little Jenny befriended her and coaxed her on. Kristen told me “She is compassionate and sensitive to the needs of those around her. She is always willing to lend a listening ear or offer a word of encouragement whenever someone needs it.” Alex Chin, from Chets Creek, told us he sees Jenny serve a younger student who struggles with a disability that makes it difficult to walk. Jenny helps her get food and juice each week at church.
Jenny loves to serve in the Preschool Ministry at her church. She told me: “I enjoy seeing their faces when it clicks that Jesus loves them. I want to teach them how important it is to not be selfish and to love others more than yourself.”
She Passionately Hustles:
When asked about Jenny’s work ethic, Kristen explained: “Jenny excels in school because she’s willing to put in the hard work.”
Well, I’d say Jenny’s hard work has paid off. She’s in the National Honors Society. She takes dual credit courses. She’s a member of the Medical Club, Sisterhood Bible Study, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Bertram Trail Bible Club. She plays soccer and tennis and loves to read. Whew! I’m tired from just listing her activities! Lol.
She Confidently Leads:
Kristen sees Jenny’s leadership every week at church. “She is bold in her faith and wants others to have the hope that she has found in Christ.” Alex Chin told us “Jenny always has a positive and joyful attitude that is infectious through our entire student group that creates a fun and welcoming environment.”
I couldn’t agree more. I was astounded at Jenny’s response when I asked her to send me any advice she might give to my readers. So, again, I’m sharing Jenny’s exact words.
“I used to be very shy and quiet for fear of being judged. Unfortunately, that left me missing out on opportunities to share the love of God with other people at my school. Don’t let any opportunity pass you by! Boldness is hard in a world where we are told to fit in. I just want to encourage you girls out there to not let the fear of being judged or excluded get in the way of your love for God. Middle school and high school go by extremely fast and I have found that my faith is way more powerful than fear. It is so important for you all to know that ‘God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of love, power and self discipline.” Stand up for what you believe in with grace and kindness and love.’ Never let anyone dull your light for Jesus.”
That, my friends, is leadership.
Jenny, you sparkle! I want every one of my readers to take your very own words to heart. You are an incredible example. Even though I have never met you in person, I’m inspired by your testimony, your sweet relationship with your family, your love for others, and your adoration for your God!
Here’s a link to the book Jenny and her mom are studying together! This is a classic that every believer needs to read!
Here’s a link to Jenny’s favorite worship album! It’s a good one, girls!
We are excited to introduce our “Sparkler of the Month” for March! Meet Emma Helton, from Nashville, TN. Although Emma’s outward beauty is astoundingly obvious, to those who know her, it’s God’s love working in her that really makes her shine!
Emma told us that even though she was only seven when she answered the call to salvation, she remembers God moving in her heart. She prayed in her home with her parents. She was full of sweet, honest questions and responded with child-like faith. It was simple. Her salvation testimony may be simple, but what happened was profound. Emma realized that she was a sinner and that she could never reach a Holy God, her Creator, without a Rescuer. She understood that that same God loved her with an Everlasting Love and provided a Savior when He sent Jesus to live a sinless life, to die a sinner’s death, to take on the punishment she deserved, and to be brought back to life three days later. She believed that Jesus now sits enthroned in heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She knew she wanted to personally submit to Him as Lord over her life. Emma put her faith in Romans 10:9 that tells us “If you declare with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It was astounding. It was simple. It was beautiful.
So how does Emma meet our definition of a “Sparkler?”
She Adoringly Abides:
Emma told us she uses a daily devotion called “Teen to Teen: 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Girls.” Emma says the entries are short, but very applicable to the things she’s going through in her life. “It’s just a really good way to start off my day.”
One way we “abide” in Christ, is by submitting to the Godly leadership He has placed in our lives. Emma’s mom, Angie Helton, told us that she has a strong desire to listen to and honor her Daddy during her teen years. She recognizes that God placed him in her life as her protector. She particularly follows his leadership in the area of modesty. She desires his approval in what she wears! That’s pretty rare for teen girls these days, and we say that’s just one more evidence that Emma desires to glorify God over herself!
She Selflessly Loves:
At Glitter, we like to do our research before we bestow the honor of “Sparkler of the Month.” We spoke to several people from Emma’s life and each one said exactly the same things about her. Emma’s selflessness was the common theme. We were told time and time again, that Emma befriends the friendless. She reaches out to the those who are in need of kindness. She isn’t concerned about being “popular” or being a part of any cliques. She is only concerned about making others feel accepted and loved. Justin Beasley, the Student Minister at Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, told us: “Emma has a heart and sensitivity to the needs of those around her.” Jack Oliver, the Children’s Minister at Judson, has watched Emma grow up and says he has seen her live out Proverbs 18:24: “A man that has friends must show himself friendly.” Cindy Harvey has been a long-time friend of Emma’s family. She confirmed: “She has the ability to hang out with anybody. She’s drawn to those that seem to be on the outskirts.”
She Passionately Hustles:
Sometimes “hustle” is way more than just hard work. It’s perseverance and consistency. There’s no perseverance without difficulty. Emma’s mom explained that Emma’s strong character and affection for others, was born out of adversity. Emma experienced some hard challenges in her younger years. Angie told us she remembers thinking, “Is this ever going to get better?” But now, God is using those very struggles for His glory in her life. Angie summed it up perfectly: “With God, nothing painful goes without purpose.”
She Confidently Leads:
Emma, who also happens to be a pretty savage softball player, is a leader on her team. Her mom told us: “She is extremely encouraging to the younger, less-experienced players.”
Emma leads young kids at Vacation Bible School at church every summer. Emma told us: “I try to set a good example for the younger kids on how to be Christ-like and a follower of Jesus. I have learned that telling kids about Jesus is opening a door in their life for their salvation.”
Justin Beasley told us he’s been challenging the students at Judson to share their faith with others. “Emma stepped up and reaches out to people. I’ve watched her boldly step out of her comfort zone to share Christ.” He continued “Emma does the right thing regardless of who’s watching her. She has character, and that makes her a leader.”
Emma, you are precious! It amazed us to hear the exact words, from multiple people about your attentiveness toward those in need of a friend. Your outward beauty is striking, but it’s Jesus in you that makes you SPARKLE!
Here’s a link to the daily devotion book Emma uses:
Glitter is thrilled to introduce our very first Sparkler of the Month – Rachel Logan!
Rachel is 16 years old, lives in Glencoe, Alabama and is a Junior at Glencoe High School. After interviewing several people in Rachel’s life, we can positively say that Rachel is a Sparkler!
In fact, if you ask Rachel’s dad, Greg Logan, he would tell you she is the reason He came to Christ. “I was a lost man in 2016 and without Rachel and her example of the love of Jesus, I might still be lost. I was supposed to be her spiritual leader, but instead, she was a spiritual leader on her own, and she has influenced my walk with Jesus.”
Growing up, Rachel says she and her mom would only occasionally go to church. She says she always believed in Jesus, but she really didn’t know exactly what that meant. It wasn’t until Rachel began regularly attending church with a friend, that she began feeling the Lord knocking at the door of her heart. Rachel began persuading her parents to go to church with her. It was pretty easy to convince her mom to go, but her dad was a bit more hesitant. Eventually, he begrudgingly obliged Rachel and decided to visit. Like Rachel, her parents immediately felt the love and sincerity of the people of the church, and they all felt Christ drawing them in with the truth and conviction of the Gospel. They were changed.
Rachel says it wasn’t until she began an intimate Bible study with her mentor, Christie Thornton, that she began to really understand what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. Christie led her in a study called “A Call to Joy,” and the pieces of the Christian faith began to come together. Rachel realized up to that point, she only had a “head knowledge” about Jesus. Now she desired a walk with him as her Lord. She gave her heart to Him, and not long after that decision, she publicly professed her faith through Baptism.
Rachel says the Lord has changed the way she views herself. As like most young girls, Rachel admits to continually struggling with a low self-image. She says it wasn’t long after her salvation, that she went along with a church group to volunteer at a pregnancy center. Rachel says they were ministering to women who were fighting guilt from having had abortions. These women found it hard to imagine that God could possibly love and forgive them. Even though she was there to minister and speak life into these broken women, Rachel realized she too struggled with self-worth. God’s Word changed her perspective on self image. She says, “I love Proverbs 31 because it talks about true beauty in the eyes of the Lord. I realize now that I have worth and I was created the way God wanted.”
So how exactly does Rachel meet the criteria of a Sparkler?
She Adoringly Abides
Rachel admits that it is difficult to spend time with the Lord on a daily basis. She says the activities, freedoms and new responsibilities that come with being a teen can be very distracting from the daily disciplines of faith. However, Rachel writes in her prayer journal to help her focus. She says she likes to meditate on a particular passage in scripture and she follows up by recording the thoughts and prayers that the Holy Spirit lays on her heart. She also uses devotional books to help guide her in her time with the Lord. Rachel’s mom, Cindy Logan, glowingly told us that Rachel’s sincere love for the Lord is obvious when she worships in choir. “The joy is all over her face.”
Rachel says one of her favorite scriptures is John 15:5 where Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
She knows first hand what it feels like to go a short time without “abiding in the vine.” In 2017, Rachel’s dad was diagnosed with cancer, and Rachel admits it caused her to grow a bit distant from the Lord. She shared a story from that time of cleaning out the trunk of her car, finding her Bible in the midst of the junk, and casually tossing it on her bed. “All of a sudden I stopped in my tracks, turned back and just held my Bible and started crying.” She says she felt convicted of not spending time with God, and she immediately prayed for forgiveness. She says the Lord began confirming to her the meaning of Isaiah 55:8: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Rachel says her dad’s cancer diagnosis and eventual recovery taught her about trusting God despite the circumstances.
She Selflessly Loves
Ask anyone in Rachel’s life about her best character trait and they all respond with the same answer – her selflessness.
Karen Prickett, a leader at Rachel’s church says, “I knew something was different about her the moment I met her.” She tells a story about Rachel participating in a volunteer city clean up and winning door prize money. Later, while eating lunch at a restaurant, Rachel spotted a man on the street asking for food. Without hesitation, Rachel bought the man a meal and gave him the remainder of her prize winnings.
“Rachel lives her life on a daily basis in an attitude of service. She is sensitive to the needs of others and is continually reaching out,” says her grandmother, Catherine Logan.
Rachel’s sister, Jessica Chapman, comments: “She’s one of those people that would go broke to make sure everyone else has something.”
Her dad emphasizes: “Rachel desires for others to see Jesus in her rather than a beautiful 16-year-old girl.”
Rachel knows one of the best ways to demonstrate selfless love, is by serving. She does this at her church by leading the children’s music for the Christmas program, helping with the preschool ministry, singing in the choir and volunteering at soup kitchens and mission centers. Rachel loves working with children. Karen Prickett told us the kids at church are drawn to her. Rachel’s mom admiringly mentioned, “She’s like a mama duck with her little baby ducks following behind her.” Rachel recently traveled to Florida to help lead Vacation Bible School with displaced children living at the Taunton Family Children’s Home. She says that though she was there to serve and teach others, the trip ended up having a huge impact on her. “I love little kids so much. It made me happy to see their happiness. The experience made me more grateful for my parents and my family.”
She Passionatly Hustles
Rachel certainly works hard and gives her best in everything she does. She maintains high grades in all AP classes at school. “Rachel is diligent about her school work. She knows where she wants to go, and she’s gonna work hard to get there,” says Karen Prickett. Sherry Firestone, a teacher at Rachel’s school, told us she is impressed with her drive for excellence. “When challenged in her school work, she does not give up but works tirelessly to succeed.” Rachel’s best friend, Hannah Robertson, confirmed: “She knows what she wants and gets it done.”
On top of her volunteer efforts and school work, Rachel also has a job at Publix in Rainbow City. Bre Bearden, the Customer Service Manager at Publix, told us that Rachel has a great work eithic. “Rachel is a joy to work with. She is always looking for something to do and she does it with a good attitude and a smile.”
She Confidently Leads
Rachel doesn’t lead with loud persuasion. She leads quietly. She leads by serving. She leads by loving. She leads by example.
Hannah Robertson, told us “She is a leader; not a follower. She knows what she believes and she is not afraid to tell people.”
Rachel’s mom raves about her example to others. “She just takes young girls under her wing!”
Her dad perfectly sums it up in this way: “Rachel does not have to be asked to lead; she comes by this naturally. Rachel has been a part of and has personally led other people to Jesus. This is a perfect example of being a leader.”
Wow! Rachel is certainly what we call a “Sparkler!” At Glitter, we love amazing role models like Rachel. It gives us absolute joy to have the opportunity to write about her, share her story with others and award her with the title of “Sparkler of the Month!”
Thank you, Rachel! Keep SHINING YOUR LIGHT!
Here’s the Bible study, “A Call to Joy,” Rachel mentioned:
And here are the devotional books Rachel is currently using: