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Tornado season

Tornado season

It’s springtime in Oklahoma – tornado season – and our family is on high alert, especially my daughter, Hope. She wasn’t born yet when the May 3rd twister took her Mema’s house to the foundation in 1999, but she’s heard enough about it to develop a healthy paranoia when it comes to storms.

Honestly, I think Hope would live her entire life without a single May flower if only she could avoid April showers altogether, each of which sends her into an obsessive tailspin of activity, checking the weather app on her iPod, lying awake listening for sirens and deciding how best to hang onto her chihuahua should the roof be sucked off of our house. I think she’s decided to go with putting him inside her shirt.

A week or so ago, it stayed overcast and rainy for several days.  On the way to school, her eyes pink and puffy from lack of sleep, Hope sighed, “I just hate the way this weather makes me feel, Mom. It’s like I’m trapped and the sun is gone for good. I mean, I know it’s up there somewhere because l can tell night from day and the plants aren’t dying, but I just want to see it and feel it for myself so I know everything is okay, you know?”

I knew exactly what she meant. My heart feels that way sometimes. When sickness comes or people disappoint or money is tight or I have just gotten so busy that I haven’t made God my priority, it’s hard for me to remember that God doesn’t change and that He hasn’t left me. Though I never doubt His existence or His love for me, I sometimes overestimate the power of the enemy and allow him to corner my emotions and steal my joy.

There’s no easy way out of a spiritual funk like that. Now, sometimes, God in His mercy simply breaks through my thoughts and warms my soul with His presence through the words of a song or the embrace of a loved one, but more often than not, He allows me to do the work of seeking Him before keeping His promise to be found.

In times like those, I rely on God’s Word and memories of God’s faithfulness to get me through. Minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, I consciously – though often not so enthusiastically – choose to do the things the Bible tells me to do and wait for God to show Himself faithful, and you know what? He always does. Sometimes slowly, but always surely, God reveals Himself to me once again, growing my faith, restoring to my soul the joy of my salvation, and letting me know that everything is okay.

Stick It

Stick It

There she stood, all forty-eight inches of her, blonde head thrown back, soft arms outstretched above and behind her, a gold medal smile on her lightly freckled face.  Nearby, a handful of enthusiastic three year olds applauded.

“Do it again!” a little boy cried, hopping up and down.

Curious, I paused to watch.  The little girl’s mother sighed, but smiled and waited patiently for her daughter.

With deliberate steps, the tiny gymnast walked into the corner of the room, turned, and took a deep breath.  Suddenly, thrusting her chest forward and her back end out, she struck the same pose as before.  Looking like the most adorable little hood ornament you have ever seen, she had apparently “stuck” another incredible imaginary landing.  More applause.

Walking away, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the little girl might actually become a seasoned and successful gymnast someday. I think she stands a chance if she learns an actual routine and keeps getting the kind of encouragement I witnessed.

A little encouragement goes a long way, you know.

I understand the rising popularity of Christian satire. I’ve read Stuff Christians Like, and I follow Jon Acuff on Twitter.  The man cracks me up, and I believe, as he does, that Christians should be able to laugh at themselves.   However, I don’t believe that we should laugh at or openly criticize one another, especially when there are non-believers and seekers in the audience.  Lately, it seems that “satirists” with far less skill, experience, and discernment than Jon Acuff are doing more damage than good with their careless words.

There is a distinct difference between satire and criticism.  Satire encourages us to take a look at ourselves; criticism strips the Body of Christ bare before the world.  Satire encourages us to course correct; criticism condemns us.  Satire takes the sting out of loving rebuke; criticism shames us.  Satire can be done in love; criticism is selfish.  Not sure where your words fit? Check your motives.  Are you striving to encourage, instruct, and disciple others with your words, or are you venting frustration?  Who is glorified by your words?

Here’s the truth: none of us are perfect, and we won’t be until we get to Heaven and Jesus finishes the work that He began in us.  In the meantime, God is busy teaching and molding us according to our individual circumstances.  We don’t learn the same lessons at the same time and so have to be careful about assuming that others should already know what God just taught us.  So what if you know the whole routine and all your brother knows is how to “stick” a landing?  He’ll get there (and so will you) if we take the gloves off and offer applause instead.

Visit Angela’s blog to read the extended version of this post.