If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By Bev Odom
The Red River Sun
WELLINGTON — Girls 12 years and up and women gathered with friends and family to fill the Ritz Theatre for the Arise Identity Conference. Friday night’s showing of Jennifer Strickland’s compelling story, “Girl Perfect Documentary,” began the event with the story of her struggles as a former professional model.
Author and founder of U R More, Strickland opened the event on Saturday morning, April 10 with her talk entitled “The Pearl of Great Price.” She explained how she met conference host Michelle Hearn, known as the “Bible Lady,” and Kristen Spillman Jordan, a 1999 graduate of Wellington High School and now the executive director of U R More.
Strickland said she had no friends in Colleyville until she crossed paths with these two women through a bible study group. Their relationships grew and evolved, helping Jordan fulfill her dream of bringing a conference for girls and women to her hometown of Wellington during her niece Emma Kane’s senior year of high school.
“In all, 300 ticket holders came from Wellington, Shamrock, Memphis, Childress, Quanah, Wheeler, Canadian, Amarillo, Dallas and Fort Worth, and Hollis, Moore and Ada, Okla.,” Jordan said. “Plus, we had 20 volunteers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to help serve the Wellington and surrounding community women.”
In her incredible message, Stickland said she signed with a modeling agency at the age of 17 and ended up in Europe. Through her struggles with addictions, abuse and eating disorders, she found Jesus in a church in Germany.
“An American girl who had never heard the gospel, I flushed my pot and poured out my beer,” she said. “I challenged God and still didn’t believe. He protected me many days. I contemplated suicide. Being painted up to be perfect was not my destiny. I paid attention to the way Jesus interacted with women in the bible. I became broken enough to receive what God was trying to tell me. I retreated to the Black Forest of Germany and fasted and studied. I found that love is the way He measures us.”
Strickland described how the Lord told her, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace, you have been healed, you are well,” and the light broke through the clouds at that moment.
She related the bible parable of the pearl of great value, which tells how the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.
“Our heavenly Father goes to the greatest depths of darkness to bring us to the light.”
Vocalist Molly Anderson of Amarillo Trinity Fellowship led the praise and worship songs accompanied by her brother-in-law on the guitar and keyboard.
For an Arise testimony, Whitney Wyatt of Childress shared her powerful testimony of her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she overcame stage three brain cancer at the age of 26.
She shared Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Wyatt described her positive outlook carried over from her raising, and she never once gave the devil a foothold in her battle.
“I’m a better Christian because of cancer,” she said. “I’ve grown in my faith and patience, and I’m not afraid to witness to people.”
She gives the Lord 100 percent of the credit for all the stories she’s been so blessed to tell, encouraging those diagnosed with cancer given only a very small chance to live. She explained that her mom served as a home economics teacher, teaching her how to help and love people.
Despite being bullied as a student in Childress and as an adult in the workforce, she said she will always choose kindness.
Attendees fellowshipped over a croissant sandwich lunch catered by Bertie Fannie, posed for photos in the Ritz lobby and visited with Strickland one-on-one as she autographed copies of her various books.
During the first afternoon session, Strickland stressed the things women should look to for identity. She helped the audience look not to what they can, but what they cannot see.
“Your identity is more powerful than your brokenness,” she said. “As revealed in His word, God is our Father, maker, savior, redeemer, healer and king. When we discover our identity in His eyes – as his precious, beautiful daughters and creations, the beloved bride of Christ – we become unstoppable.”
In an artistic worship on the Ritz stage, Marnie Kane created a masterpiece entitled “His Bride,” right before the eyes of each participant.
“God is stitching together His Bride,” Strickland said. “He is looking for a pearl to stich into the garment of Christ, and He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
She invited the younger attendees first, then others, to approach the front for a special gift, “never forget the ring he put on her finger,” Strickland said.
The conference concluded with Strickland’s fourth session, preparing for Christ’s return: how to refute lies, conquer media and take hold of your purpose.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you,” Isaiah 60:1, served as a challenge for attendees to rise and shine in this dark world.
“We have a God-given purpose in this world, and it’s time to rise to it,” she said. “We may be persecuted, but we are not abandoned. God is our helper, provider, defender and protector.”
Marlee Brown won a Bible by having the autographed program. Bailey Page won a gift basket for reciting the scripture, Isaiah 60:1. The last woman standing in the beach ball game turned out to be Blaire Forrester, who also received a door prize, along with Jorgia O’Rear, who won the dance contest.
“We want to thank our Wellington sponsors, Adams Funeral Home, Collingsworth Abstract Company, Trinity Fellowship, United Methodist Women and The Gettin’ Spot Café and the Goodness Project,” said Jordan. “Thank you to all local and DFW donors who supported the conference expenses and gifts for the girls, and thank you to all donors who gave a scholarship ticket.”
Neal Odom’s company, Pioneer Business Development, LLC, served as videographer for the conference, and Sydney Jones’ business, Sydney Brickel Photography, as photographer.
“We appreciate the promotional service provided by both Neal and Sydney,” Jordan said.