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Choose Gratitude

The first thing that Michael Phelps did when he won his 8th gold medal at the Olympic games was give credit to his teammates. No ones gets to his place in life alone. In contrast, another gold medalist beat his chest boastfully as he trumpeted across the field, showing off his feat.

Personally, I prefer the humble, grateful ones. To me, they are the true champions, because they remind us that being a champion is more about character than ability, more about gratitude than self-absorption – a lesson that I have learned the hard way.

Having just seen my own little dream come true, I really want to give credit to my teammates. It’s a strange thing to see the dream of your heart realized. The feeling I got when I first received my recently published book, Girl Perfect, in the mail, was this: Wow, dreams do come true. Wow, God does really hear our prayers, and He really does answer them! I felt like I had living proof of His goodness in my hands.

But I had living proof of even more than that – that we do not achieve our dreams alone, and that amazing things can happen when people band together for one sole purpose – to shine God’s light into a dark world.

The name on the book, "Jennifer Strickland," stands for so many more names than most readers will ever know. But I want you to know that it should really say, "Shane, Linda, Larry, Zach and Olivia Strickland, Jan, George and Greg Porter, mentors like Greg Johnson, Steve Arterburn, Jim Burns and Jan Leonard, editors like Debbie Marrie, Deborah Moss and Donna Hilton, and dear friends like Lori Kennedy, Kristen Smith, Caris Leidner, Katie Hickey, Wendy Sylvester and many, many more, who believed in my dream and sacrificed time, energy, prayer, frustration, tears and countless hours of their own lives to help my dream come true.
Today, I choose gratitude for all of you and the many more who supported me during this journey. This was a team effort. Behind each word and each story, there was a dedicated group of women praying as I wrote; behind each difficult moment in which I stumbled and sometimes fell, there was my mother-in-law, Linda, who caught lots of my tears and patiently listened as I wrestled with the truths coming out, and who spent innumerable hours filling our children’s love tanks and cooking dinners so I could write; and there was Larry Strickland, my father-in-law, who always brought me coffee, tea or dark chocolate right when I needed it; and there was my husband Shane who with his quiet strength kept me focused on the firm belief that it could be done, and that it should be done – that telling the story of my journey was worth it for the single goal of helping young women.

And of course there was my mother and father who chose to face the painful moments of their daughter’s life with grace and courage; and the editors who put up with my "girl perfect" mentality – that the book had to be perfect — while once again I learned a lesson in the writing and the publishing — that "perfect" is found only in heaven, and not in books!
So please, if you read Girl Perfect, do not pass by the acknowledgements. They are first because my thanks to all those who supported me comes first.

And maybe like me, you too might need to take a moment to stop and think about those in your life who have helped you get where you are, and let them know how much they mean to you. Those are moments well spent, because as the Olympians have taught us, those are moments that are the mark of true champions.

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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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