About jenniferestrickland

Jennifer is an inspirational author, speaker, and founder of U R More, a ministry that teaches people their value, identity and purpose in Christ. In her earlier days, she was a professional model who appeared in Vogue and Glamour and walked the runways of Europe. Since leaving the modeling industry, Jen has written Beautiful Lies, Pretty From the Inside Out, and other books that teach women to see themselves through God's eyes. Her work has been featured at Willow Creek, Saddleback, and around the world. But most importantly, she is a mother to three amazing kids who range from teen to toddler, and the wife to her best friend Shane, who won her with his Southern charm. (And she can cook a mean spaghetti!) To find out more about her ministry, go to www.urmore.org.

U R a Writer (So Write What You Know)

“Everyone’s talking about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show  … how this one girl wore this multi-million dollar outfit …. and how amazing they all are ….”

Books

The lights in my daughter’s eyes dash in the night.  We are up too late, pillow talk, chewing on all things girl: how it’s hard to admit when we are wrong, how friend hurts run deep, how some girls seem to get everything they want … and does that mean happiness?

We are treading the waters of the life I’ve known. It is from this pain that I have written — the pain of feeling like I was never enough

We talk about the real stuff: how love is all the soul really needs; how persevering through the thick of life makes a woman beautiful; how honor and respect are the prettiest adornments we can wear.

We learn the hard way, because the longing to be beautiful is within us, and because Jesus is and always will be the utmost answer on anything Beauty.

When I wrote More Beautiful Than You Know, I wrote to the girl I used to be; the girl my daughter now is; and the girl who was at my house yesterday, the one who didn’t want to take off her shirt to go in the pool because she stated bluntly, “I don’t have a bathing-suit body.”

I wanted to jump out of my skin and hold her — cup her heart and heal it — flood truth into the blood in her veins so that she would know she is More Beautiful Than She KnowsI wanted her to define beauty in her generosity, in her laughter that fills the sky, in her eyes which pool with humility and honor. I wanted to redefine beauty for her, in her, through her.

And I will ask my daughter if I can give my book to her friend Bella, the one named Beauty who thinks she’s not. Because I wrote it for her, because of her, and because one time I stood being measured by a line of judges against another girl and her bathing-suit body beat mine. That was the last time I felt good enough in a bikini, I’ll tell you that.

We write what we know. Write from your pain. Your core pain. The more you do, the more the wound will heal — and it heals best when it becomes healing to another.

I guess there is still a scar there, because when Bella only eats fruits and vegetables while the girls with “bathing-suit bodies” guzzle sweet tea and potato chips, I want to make a big banner of my book’s cover and hang it over the pool. I want it to say, “Bella: YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU KNOW.”

I know this blog should teach you something about marketing or managing your writing schedule or turning posts into promotion, but today, I just want to challenge you to write what you know, and write for one person who could be changed by your story. Write for Bella. Write for me. Write for the one you see in your mind’s eye who needs healing from the thing that hurt you.

Do that.

And then, do that again. And again. And again.

One day, that person you wrote for, might be sitting at your kitchen table eating vegetables — or about to jump in your pool and fill the sky with laughter.

Your friend,

Jen

U R Beautiful to Me (A Miracle At a Book Signing)

I met her at a book signing. Her skin was like silken milk chocolate. Her eyes darted in agony as she strained to speak.

IMG_4882 No matter how hard she tried, no discernible words came out. Her caregiver, hands on the bars of her wheelchair, spoke: “She wants to know what your book is about.”

Book signings can be humbling. So I make sure I’ve got a girlfriend with me to talk to just in case (ahem…) the line isn’t exactly wrapped around the building. And we had One Girl in front of us now. My friend leaned closer, and I began to speak. The caregiver walked away to look at other books.

The truth is, people don’t actually want to know what your book is about. If you start telling them, their eyes will glaze. People are motivated primarily by self-interest, so they really don’t care what your book is about. They just want to know what’s in it for them.

As I stood towering before her, I forgot all that. I’m six feet tall, and when someone is in a wheelchair, eye contact is like looking at a belly button. Somewhere in my blabbering, these words came out: “You are beautiful.” 

be strong and courageous journal Strickland Books Tears rushed to her wild eyes.

“You are Worthy. You matter. You are precious to God, and He loves to look upon your face.”

Her eyes gushed with tears. Weeping, then wailing, quickly turned to howling. My stunned friend stepped in closer.

“You are valuable to Him, and You have purpose. You are worthy ….” The writhing and the pain surfaced, as if all the hurt (possibly from being scorned, judged, lonely, and locked in a prison from which she could not escape?) all came to the surface at once.

For me, the sun stood still. The clock stopped. The book store disappeared, and all became the life of One Girl: body broken, couldn’t speak, wanted to; limbs lifeless; heart desperate; locked-up soul longing to be set free. In this moment, God pressed “pause” on my life and taught me that brokenness can be beautiful because it cracks open our hearts to see the one thing we need to know: that we are loved in our marred nature.

On the surface this gap of time was horrible but gorgeous–this “inside-out” kind of beauty my books are about–all in a body, all in One Girl. And she showed me that broken is acceptable. That we are worthy of love even if we are all tied up and twisted and cannot smile.

I knew I had to touch her, that she longed for touch. I knelt down beside her and brushed my fingers over her hot tears and warm skin. “Do you want me to pray for you?” I asked. “Do you want Jesus to give you peace?”

She nodded, open-mouthed, tears streaming. As I prayed, her sobbing became so loud that the walkie-talkies on the hips of Barnes and Noble employees began buzzing. Her caregiver rushed to see what was the matter.

Jesus met a girl in a bookstore that day. When she left, her once-pained face radiated with peace and joy.

beautiful girl in wheelchair

A Girl Named Mercy

 Do you need a touch of mercy today? I sure do.

Jesus can take your pain and give you peace. He did it for her. I saw it with my own eyes: a soul held captive, squirming beneath the weight. A body struck down, but not destroyed, for her story wasn’t over yet. If he can do it for demon-possessed, crazy Mary; if he can do it for wasted Lazarus; if he can do it for beautiful Mercy, then He can do it for you and me.

Somehow, writing the whole book series about beauty and woman’s worth, and finding your value in God’s eyes, culminated right there, with Mercy. Every hard-pressed moment of writing through my own tears transferred to wiping away hers. Strickland books Jesus met a girl in a bookstore that day. Yes, He met me there. 

(p.s. I was at the Texas Author Extravaganza yesterday …. you never know whose life you might touch at a book signing!)

Love,

Publishing Day

The day my book releases is an odd day for me. Inside, I am screaming, “My book is out! Everybody, my book is out! Are you going to untitledread it, or what?!” I walk into the bookstore and pretend to only casually check that it’s on the front table. If it’s not, I pretend not to be bothered. I decrease my expectations. I walk towards the women’s section and just hope to see it on the shelf. If it’s not, I pretend to understand, but inside, I don’t understand at all.

Because it’s my heart on the page.

I went through this with my first book, Girl Perfect, and I just went through it again with Beautiful Lies. In the days of the release, something in me wants people to stop and take notice, and that part of me wrestles with the part that knows the act of creating is worth it, whether anyone notices or not.

I hope the late nights, the honest tears, and the sweet victories of finding just the right words to speak my soul’s hunger will result in profundity for the reader. I want my efforts to matter. In fact, I’m tempted to tell you how I crawled through the thickest mud of my adult life to bear this book. But Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life, scolded me about this, warning me never to tell anyone how much a book cost me personally – for it is impolite to do so.

So with the release of a book, three tragic flaws in the self must die. First, the part of us that hungers for recognition has to die to the Spirit in us that is compelled to speak honestly and truthfully into a world that needs our voices.  Second, the humanity in us that wants millions to hear the book’s message must die to the Spirit in us that rejoices if one life is purely changed by our words.

Finally, we have to let go of “perfect” and embrace gratitude instead. The perfectionistic questions that circle on publishing day – “Is it enough?” “Did I say everything I wanted to?” “Will the reader understand my heart’s lineage?”  and “Is this as beautiful an offering as I dreamed?” – all of these questions must yield to gratitude.

untitledSo here is mine: Thank you, God, that I had the opportunity to bleed truth on these pages. Thank you for the healing it brought to me. Thank you that you love me so much as to give my heart’s desire wings, and I commit these books to you, trusting your winds will carry their words wherever they need to flutter. Beautiful Lies is my offering. My alabaster jar. And when I poured its oil, it was all for you.

What about you? What do you have to embrace and let go of on publishing day? What are the needs for recognition or perfection that you battle? What does your gratitude sound like?