Jen's Journal

Jen's Journal

U R a Girl who Struggles with her Body (and you are in my kitchen)

“I don’t have a bathing suit body,” the sweet one says as she takes off her shirt on fast forward and jumps in the pool. 

U R a Girl so you Struggle with your Body
photo by Steve Crane

At the table later, she explains she has lost seven pounds by cutting carbs.

The girls are thirteen.

Standing behind the kitchen sink, I lean in.

We talk fruits, vegetables and strength training, but inside my mind battles. I really wish she didn’t need to do this, that it was okay for her to be plump, because she is the most exuberant girl in the bunch — and that’s how I define beauty.

“What are complex carbohydrates?” one of the girls asks, the one who has been bouncing in here bubbly since fifth grade. I explain the difference between broccoli and white bread.

The girl in question eats fruit for breakfast, and I wonder how long this will last. In my mind I ask why we are supposed to be proud of her dieting.  Is this good or not?  I wonder. Is it her genes or her jean size that we can really change? Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but that’s not what the magazines say.

As I wash dishes sudsy, I think and say quietly, “Bella, you are beautiful.” In truth, she is more beautiful than she knows.

Books

I want to jump out of my skin and help her see what beauty is — and it’s not comparing her thighs to the girl sitting next to her (which they all do, by the way).

I want her to redefine beauty by her generosity; by her laughter that fills the sky; by her eyes, pools of humility. I want to redefine beauty for her … by how she looks in her Father’s eyes.

The one named Beauty who thinks she’s not: I wrote this book for her, and all the teen girls out there who need a new definition of the mirror. Who need to know their value, their identity in Christ, their purpose beyond the measuring tapes and pant sizes and screen likes and shares.

At 21, I was measured by a line of judges, and the other girl’s bathing suit body beat mine. That was the last time I felt good enough in a bikini.

While the girls with “bathing suit bodies” guzzle sweet tea and crunch potato chips, I want to make a big banner of my book’s cover and hang it over the pool for this girl. (That would be kind of cool.)

It would say, “YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU KNOW.”

That’s why I run in the mornings and eat veggies. I do it because I decided I’m worth that, not because I’m in search for worth. And that’s all I want for our girls.

Find a teen girl, and teach her value. When we know our value — when we know who we are and whose we are, everything we do flows from that, and the imperfections melt away in the light of He who loves us perfectly.

more-beautiful-blog

Click on the image above to grab a summer read for a girl who might need it.

Or keep one handy at home.

You never know when you’ll look up from your kitchen counter and see her sitting at your table, about to jump in the pool and fill the sky with laughter.

With care,

Jen

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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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