Ever woken in the morning and saw the man in the mirror, and thought – you look older than you did yesterday!? Like the years have been running against the wind and your umbrella keeps getting knocked loose and the storm is a-raging?
My heart aches. It’s physical — that dull pulsing sensation in the chest that our world is not as it should be. Did God step out when we stepped in? Or did we just lose him in the shuffle? Hearts aching pulses quickening anger simmering tears rolling, stress rising. Why can’t we get this thing right? Why is it that in the real, in the face-to-face, it’s never as easy it looks in the books.
“It’s harder when real people are involved,” the counselor said, the wise one who listens carefully before she speaks.
Who was it that said, with God, we are either IN the wilderness, GOING INTO the wilderness, or COMING OUT of the wilderness? So we went in, yearning as the calendar flipped from year to year to year, then we came out and saw the glory. Now it looks like we’re back in … because all I see is cloudy.
But there is always hope, because Christmas is Christ in us. So when a squall threatens, I duck for cover. The Word my lamp. I search. Don’t stop searching till it’s no longer layer upon layer of haze. Wrapped in blanket, coffee cold by now: I seek with all my heart until I find the gem that moves me from the tired face in the mirror to the girl with running shoes on, the one with patience and grace and faith that moves mountains.
Running shoes hit the trail, but I don’t really get my stride until I hear Him say, “I gave you a spirit of power, not of fear ….”
By the time I show up for work I am beyond ready to face this day – I‘m ready to own it. It won’t take me; I’m taking IT. The day that God hath made, right? Seize it?
Through the screens come the messages: Young ones facing sick babies. Widows aching. Children who could have eaten that loaf of bread we tossed in the trash. Girls wracked with despair from what someone said about her on the screen, the screen that keeps threatening not to fulfill her, tucked in her back pocket. Aching hearts for the lost life not at the Christmas table this year. Stabs of pain from stabs in the back that make it hard to walk, let alone run, or finish strong. Hurts make us limp.
When the girl handed me the index card, the words written in blue, I swallowed big:
“Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9
Been terrified, been discouraged? Been looking for what you cannot see, all cloudy?
In the morning the words rise like incense from the page: We are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
And didn’t Paul say to run this race with perseverance, that perseverance will produce character, and character, hope, and hope will not disappoint us? To fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and to run the race marked out for us? (Romans 5:1-5; Hebrews 12:1-12)
Tennis shoes on concrete, I get to the end of the trail, where I usually stop and walk. Keep on Running. Finish. So I finish, not as strong as I could be today, but willing to stay in the race. Been there, soul?
Her text comes right when I need it: “The letter for the day is P. Pray. Persevere.”
Whatever you are facing today, KNOW it: We are more than conquerors because He loves us. OWN it: Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will go with you … wherever you go.
Even at Christmas when not all things are as you wish they would be. When you are looking for something you cannot see, but you know is there: an answer. When it’s cloudy and gray and when it’s clear and okay: He is there.
He is coming, a conqueror bent on conquest. A victor who beholds the victory in me, in you.
Look in His Mirror: He is coming soon. “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11)
Hold on, Soul. Hold on to what you have. Hold it close and hold it dear, for even after His death, He will rise, and so, my friend, will you. So will you.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
At the age of 18, I was recovering from an eating disorder, cutting, and suicide when I read Jennifer Strickland’s book Girl Perfect and it changed my life. At the age of 33, as I travel the world reaching youth for the gospel, this is the only book I recommend to girls who are struggling. The Lord has truly anointed Jennifer’s words through her story, not only to address the struggles of today’s generation of girls, but also to walk them through the healing necessary for victory.
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, 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, 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.”