The Technology-Driven Life by Jo Russell

Jo's publicity photo

Author Jo Russell

For two weeks I tried every evening to reach my long-time friend, Jamie, but the phone just rang and rang. Where was the robot that quipped, “The party is not available but thrilled you’re calling. He or she will call you back. Press one to leave a message in English, two for Spanish, and leave your personalized message for up to 45 seconds or no more than 120 characters… ”

Without an answering machine, I had to guess when I could find her home among demands of work, grandkids, and being caregiver for her aging parents.

Cell phone? Uh-uh. Though I discovered pay phones have become as rare as white tigers, I learned Jamie didn’t feel she needed cellular service.

What about e-mail? Face book? Twitter? Nope. No computer.

As a last resort, I sent her a letter. For those who sneer at stamp-decorated postage, know that she got the snail mail faster than I could reach her by phone.

When I arrived at her house, Jamie had my note on her table. I then spotted Jamie’s spotlessly clean phone in olive green on the coffee table. It was an original, not the retro reproductions of today. Also, it had a rotary dial, straight out of the Kennedy era.

“Why don’t you have an answering machine?” I wondered, thinking how desperate I had been to reach her.

“I don’t need one.”

“What about your missed calls?”

“I can tell who called. That’s all I need.”

With only a rotary-dial model, what does she do for vital transactions requiring a push-button phone? I seem to need buttons every day.

When my phone rang today, I learned of all my options from a recorded voice. Unfortunately, the menu excluded pushing a button to talk to a real person.

“Thank you for your recent purchase. I’m calling to tell you the great features of the product. What do you want to do? Press or say 1 to hear more, Press or say 2 to add theft protection, Press or say 3 to get a free first aid kit, Press four to enter the sweepstakes… ”

“Hang up,” I said.

The machine responded. “I didn’t hear that. Was that a number 1?” Before it said “good-bye” and hung up on me, I pushed the off button.

Recently, I have added more technology to my world. In addition to a computer, e-mail, attachments and cell phone, I have connected to Face book, a blog, a website, PayPal, and MP-3.

“Maybe I need a G.P.S. too,” I considered. After relying on an old-fashioned road atlas to guide me on a recent trip of nearly four thousand miles where I got lost in every metro area, I thought of the popular navigation system. Actually, maybe what I need more is another kind of G.P.S.—God’s Perspective System–as I chose how many complications I want to juggle.

Is Jamie’s life less complicated because she is free of continual changes and technology?

Does my life work better because people can reach me?

We all choose our complications. But as we make decisions, we can benefit from studying a balanced look through God’s Perspective System.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]

Keeping Down the Wrinkles–on the Inside By Jo Russell

Nearly fast as a speeding bullet, my colleague had the accelerator to the floor to make up for a late start on our thirty-some mile commute. Getting to work on time would be close.

Still, while I held on to the dash with white knuckles, I listened to her calm conversation. “Jo, why don’t you wear sunglasses?” Her perfect almond-shaped eyes were hidden behind large dark lenses. “It will keep you from getting wrinkles around your eyes.”

I squinted at her, partly because I see about as well as a mole and partly because of the morning sun. “I think it’s a little too late for that!”

Then I reflected on the decades between us. Me: a middle-aged mom. Her: a slender beauty who could audition for any screen part for Cinderella and make it.

There is fun and hygiene in pedicures, manicures, haircuts, facials, massages, packs, oils and creams. But have we let it take over our thinking and values?

Think of these comments:
“They make a cute couple.”
“He’s tall and handsome.”
“Isn’t it a shame they went to jail? They were so good-looking!”

Would God take part in thoughts like these? What is God’s take on wrinkles and appearance?

The Bible tells us he knows us and sees us on the inside. For example,even though David was a half-grown kid, God told the prophet Samuel to anoint the shepherd boy as king. His father, Jesse, had a nest full of tall, handsome grown sons, but God chose David.

Proverbs 31 is a king’s advice to his son on choosing a wife. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30 NIV)

So enjoy reducing wrinkles with sunglasses, creams, and facials. But work on keeping down the wrinkles on the inside by being a spiritual woman in your home and your life!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking  her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]

Is This Heart-Thumping Terror or Just Another Monday? By Jo Russell

“It was a dark and stormy night….” Didn’t Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoon strip always start the Great American Novel this way?
It was a moonless midnight as I typed, “The man stumbled down the hill toward the empty house as if he were in a stupor….”
Ka-Blam! Crash!

The glass in the living room window trembled with the force of a body hitting it. Then I heard a low growl gain in volume until it almost sounded like a scream. It was just Flash Gordon snarling at another cat just outside the window.

I checked to see that all the doors were bolted. I shuddered, and then remembered, when Jesus scolded his disciples during a storm, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” as he calmed down the winds and the waves on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 8:26 NIV) Because Jesus could do that without breaking out in a sweat, I could stop being so afraid.

Still, I scared myself writing a ghost story. Not only was fiction new for me, but also hair-raising stories. Tired of finding few contests to enter my humorous writing, I had looked up the elements of fiction and was giving it my best. Alas, dark and stormy nights, I discovered, are not the best time to write ghost stories.

I returned to the computer to continue, “Blood pooled on his shoes as the figure pounded on the doorway of the empty house. A permanent print….”

Something touched my arm, firmly pushing my hands from the keyboard! I pulled away, gasping! “Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me,” (Psalm 55:5 NIV) psalmist David wrote.
My sentiments exactly! It was only a cat, Sapphire Maxine, sprawling on the keyboard, leaving a paragraph of dashes and caps in her wake.
I put her down and continued, “As the truck’s headlights illuminated the scene, Mack shivered—the lights passed through him as if the injured man were made of dust!”
Poltergeist! Something rushed around the living room, spewing bouncing objects from one wall to another in three rooms! Tennis balls and stuffed toys moved like pin balls.

This time, I caught both furry streaks in the act. Did anyone ever tell you that cats are nocturnal?

In the midst of all my heart-thumping terror, I remembered my favorite, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV).
So much for being self-contained, self-reliant, and unafraid. I need God.

He is there for all of our times of alarm and true terror. We can lean on him and trust in his light. Nevertheless, I’ll work on the ghost stories after the sun comes up when the cats are napping.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking  her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]

The Proper Use of “Y’All” By Jo Russell

“Hey, y’all, somebody needs to make the fish tacos. Who knows how?” My cousins’ eyes all zeroed in on me.

“Who’s y’all?” I wondered. With an apron on and cilantro and cumin in hand, I was whipping up Mexican rice and beans. In the first few days at a women cousins’ reunion, I had shown my skill cooking from scratch. When the electricity had gone out at a cousin’s farm, the hungry crowd was wowed when I whipped out a camp stove and prepared a full meal without breaking into a sweat.

As the only one of thirteen women first cousins who was raised out West, I spent about three weeks trying to figure out the proper use of “y’all.” Did it mean “you,” “everyone,” or “none of the above?”

“Y’all come in! Dinner’s ready, and we’re glad you’re here!”

“Hurry up, y’all, take the picture! I’m bent over like a bobby-pin!”

And on the radio, “Head down to Get Y’all Fashion for the ‘Foth’ of July sale!”

Linguists have taken sides nearly as vehemently as in a country feud. Some oppose “y’all,” saying that it is not correct English, while others demand it be accepted. Though “y’all” originated from the south, people who have mastered its use move around enough that “y’all” has been included in conversation all over the U.S.

After much Southern hospitality from cousins and family, I believe I now know what “y’all” means – an enthusiastic welcome, as in “Come in! Are you hungry?” Or, “I made southern b-b-q for just for you.” It translates to smiles and a place to stay. It offers love to extended family, reaching out with time and a hearty welcome.

“Y’all” knots love and welcome together just like Jesus’ words: “Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

So, y’all, how are you doing at that?

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking  her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]

Poor Richard’s Almanac or the Bible? Answers By Jo Russell

The Answers: How did you do?
1. “Wise men learn by others’ harms. Fools scarcely learn by their own.” Poor Richard

2. “Therefore, ask [a] blessing humbly and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it…”Poor Richard

3. “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” Proverbs 23:9, the Bible (NIV)

4. “They that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.” Poor Richard

5. “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel.” Psalm 106:13 (NIV)

6. “I, even I, am he who comforts you.” Isaiah 51:12 the Bible (NIV)

7. “But dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
Poor Richard.

8. “So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you.” Jesus’ words, Matthew 7:12, the Bible (NIV)

9. “A friend loveth at all times.” Proverbs 17:17, the Bible (NIV)

Whose advice are you following? Make sure you know whose words guide you before you choose your path. Read your Bible!

 

Congratulations to Dawn R. of Snowflake, Arizona, who not only had all the correct answers, but was the first to respond. Great going, Dawn! She is the winner of a stick-on panic button that will be a great feature on her computer or dash board!

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]