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U R Fighting a Battle (how counting breaks through fear)

I am sitting on my back porch watching a mama bird feed her babies. There are two birds — the Daddy caws protection from predators, and Mama returns with tiny worms.  Three bright yellow beaks gape open wide, the babies squeal shrill when she feeds them. Not so different from our life here.

photo courtesy of Mike Giles via StockSnap
photo courtesy of Mike Giles via StockSnap

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of More Value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  

– Matthew 6:26-27, emphasis added

When I read this verse, I know God has me in His nest. But my heart gapes open wide; I’m still afraid, if we can just be honest here.

Just when you are pressing into breakthrough, everything breaks … through. Everything splinters and cracks and you can’t catch it all with your hands. Just when it looks like you are getting what you think you want, you lose what you really want.

Knees meet carpet, three times a day, Daniel-style.

Count ten times I was faithful to you, the whisper is sure. 

I count. Remember.  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.  Prayers answered. Promises true. Dreams fulfilled.

As soon as I’m done counting, I question. He won’t be faithful in this hard thing, I worry, which is no harder than the others when it comes to heaven’s gates flying wide open.  

Another 10? Why not. I count. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

Heart still gapes, fearful. Ten more ways He has been faithful? 

21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

When tears smear the night with begging, I’m the beggar and He’s the giver and everything He gives is grace, and I say it out loud, I trust you.

I read: 

Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to develop their graces. Just as torches burn most brightly when swung to and fro … so the richest qualities of a Christian often come out under the north wind of suffering and adversity. Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loves to smell. (L.B Cowman, Streams in the Desert, p. 236)

and more …

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercies; To multiplied trials His multiplies peace.” (p. 235)

I comb the words through again, braille on the page. In  the burdens we find grace, in the labor, strength; in the affliction, mercy. Trials lead to peace?

Each year,  I hunt. Last year I hunted for joy, and I found it sparkling in the most familiar places; the hunt never ceases. This year, I said I’d hunt for peace.

To multiplied trials, His multiplies peace.

Multiply for us, Lord, those character traits we have yearned for, and if it is through storms we see the rainbows, so be it.

Meanwhile, I will count. 31. 32. 33. 34. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. I expect to get to a hundred by the end of the week.

To count the ways He has been faithful, to remember the miracles, knowing you are a miracle — yes you, the walking resurrection — to remember breathes life into dry bones — yes, even these that look as dust.  

As Ann Voskamp says, “When what He gives doesn’t look like near enough … when it looks like a handful instead of a plateful, a year full, a life full … Do not disdain the small. He gifts with seeds as small as moments, grace upon grace, and the unlikely here and now. Our enough is always in the now, because He never leaves us.” – (One Thousand Gifts Devotional, p. 102)

So the moments are gifts, the memories are gifts, and we shall count them. And in His faithfulness we shall rest.

Morning after morning, the Mama bird keeps coming back with worms to fill those gaping beaks. So I gape open and bit by bit, He gives our daily bread.

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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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