Getting Over Messiness: God Can Do the Impossible! By Jo Russell

“I’m Jo and I’m a slob.” I could just imagine standing up in a 12-step meeting and admitting this horrible habit. Before God stepped in, I figured I was helpless to overcome this behavior. I’m a great test case for God’s promise that with Him all things are possible. [Matthew 19:26.]

Now and then, I felt guilty when I remembered a friend who has an immaculate home 24/7. She never battles disorder, dirt, and chaos. Her children learned to give themselves a bath,19:26. make their beds and fix their own meals by the time they were four. None ever showed up in a mud-covered trash bag after being towed on an inner tube behind someone’s four-wheel drive. That was my sons’ style.
Messiness seemed like our family’s shared gene. “Dear Lord, I know you can heal me of anything. Please guide me and help me over my sloppiness.” It wasn’t long after my prayer that I forgot I’d asked Him. If you pray for God to heal you of your messiness, then stock up on cleaning supplies and rags. I didn’t.

God has a sense of humor, you know that?

One day, the doorbell rang and I answered wearing my project clothes covered with a layer of drywall dust, which I’d tracked through the house. On the porch were two women: Miss Beauty Contest Winner with immaculate hair and manicured fingernails, tiara, heels and hose, plus a designer dress. Her sponsor stood beside her with her mouth open. I’d completely forgotten this day I was coaching the scholarship candidate on her public speaking. The appointment was in my day planner, but I hadn’t looked at it that day. My fingernails were as ragged as the Grand Teton range. Dusted white were my face, glasses and clothes. Two tufts of hair stuck out through the leg holes of an old pair of underwear over my hair. The two women were stunned.

Grand Mal Embarrassment set in. It was time to be serious about changing my habit for good and turning to God for help, not just with the house, but with organization. God got busy right away as I overhauled my day planner. Then I changed my habits after painting a few houses during the summer. I went to the first house to work. The dust bunnies were big enough to knit together into a Volkswagen. To say there was disorder in that house was like calling a boat wake the same as a tidal wave. After that 15-hour day, I went home, vacuumed, cleaned toilets and washed dishes. “I can actually do this,” I realized.

The next two houses were about the same.

“Very funny, God!” I told Him. “What’s next?”
Over time, I changed for the better. Though I would like to use the word “spotless,” that’s entirely too strong a word. What I did learn was if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. You can tackle all messes a little at a time this way.

There is all planning and no disorder in God’s world. Having an uncluttered house helps to have an uncluttered life. God smiles down at us when we don’t have to make a second trip to the hardware store for cup hooks because we couldn’t find the ones we just bought.

God had indeed done the impossible with me, and with a sense of humor at that. He healed me of my sloppiness, just as I asked Him!

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

 

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Where All Are Welcome At Dinner By Jo Russell

Grammo taught her children and family well. “No dining room is complete without a table that seats twelve,” she might have said. Though none of her twelve children grew families that large, their homes and drop-leaf tables still reflected  warmth, welcome, and hospitality to all who came.

Widowed and left with a partially-remodeled, unprofitable hotel when most people were ready to retire, Grammo moved her large dining table to the hotel. She adopted a “can do” attitude as entrepreneur, contractor supervisor, and businesswoman.  It was a piece of cake. After all, she had managed a budget, large family and home for years.

As the hotel became profitable, Grammo added more faces, warm bantering and conversation around the large dining table –some family, some friends, and some strays.  

Her granddaughter, a student nurse living in the same town, was a frequent guest. No different than today, college students were short on funds and food. Laura Jeane was one of them. One day, she asked Grammo if she and another student nurse could come to the hotel for her uncle’s birthday party and dinner. “Is it any trouble?” she worried.

Grammo laughed, “Why no, Laura Jeane, it means only two more plates for you to wash!”

Love infused Grammo, that table, and her guests at every meal.

God’s love is an antibiotic that all of us need. We have the chance to share it around our tables Thanksgiving and any time. Jesus had something to say about it. Consider these lifestyle orders: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. ” [John 13:34 NIV].

When a neighbor approached Kathy and asked, “Can we spend Thanksgiving together? I would rather spend it with friends than family,” Kathy smiled, “Of course!”  Kathy’s kitchen would never fit a table for twelve, but every guest around the placemat-sized table knew the love of Christ through Kathy.  

May God’s love infuse your home, guests, and table – no matter how many it seats – this Thanksgiving.  

 [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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]   

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IF YOU ARE THE FIRST TO ANSWER CORRECTLY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift Your Eyes to the Heavens! By Jo Russell

As a person visiting from arid Arizona, Barbara expected a reaction in the coastal town supermarket when she remarked to no one in particular, “Wow! That rain is really coming down!”

No one in the supermarket even blinked. With an average of 62.5 inches of precipitation a year in all forms, residents of the small seaside town just couldn’t get excited over anything dropping from the sky – rain, snow, sleet, ice, fog, hail, or seagulls and their by-products.

Even a church marquis used the weather as a take-off with this advice, “Lift up your eyes to the Heavens…and watch out for ice and snow!”

Lifting our eyes to Heaven with thanks to God is a great way to start each day. Thinking positive can alter the attitudes about experiences in life. It’s easy when they are…

• so few visits to the doctor, he doesn’t remember who you are
• healthy kids and grandkids
• bountiful gardens free of cutworms
• sunny days
• answered prayers
• a dream getaway vacation
• bonuses and bank accounts that are in the black

But life’s experiences also mimic ice, snow, avalanches, accidents, and black ice. For over a hundred years, Morton Salt proclaims that when it rains, it pours.
That may come in the form of:

• misplaced luggage that visited more states than you have
• missing shoe from each pair belonging to the under-10 set when they arrive at your home.
• a midnight family reunion at the emergency room or poison center
• a surprise diagnosis by a medical team
• the smiling repairman earning time and a half, whistling his way through a house so filled with family for the holidays, he wonders if this is the four-wall equivalent of “How many students can you cram into a Volkswagen?”

Ah, life! Such variety!

Yet through the fair weather and the freak storms, we can count on God as our refuge and our strength even when there’s a whole lot of shaking going on! “Therefore do not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… The LORD Almighty is with us and the God of Jacob is our fortress.” [Ps. 46:2-3, 7]

What if you’re trying to sleep with all that racket? David wrote, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. [Ps 4.8] And he could drift off to dreamland while rain pelted on the roof.

So can you. Remember to lift your eyes to the Heavens, and God will give you rest—through every kind of storm.

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

SAVE THE DATE! CROSSWORD OLD TESTAMENT QUIZ DEC. 9. WIN A FREE BOOK SHIPPED ANYWHERE IF YOU ANSWER CORRECTLY FIRST!

 

Choosing for the Right Reason By Jo Russell

In the cowboy country of the northwest, Ginny and her friend, Amy, looked over the horses at the rodeo in her small town. Both teens were decked out in tight jeans with bright western shirts. Shiny curls bounced over their shoulders.

Ginny had an agenda as she checked for the best-looking horse she could find. The blonde teen had learned local rodeos like this one were a good place to find quality horses as fine-tuned and trained as athletes.  She had already seen Man Friday compete. What a performer! 

“Any luck?” her friend, Amy, nudged her.

“Yep,” Ginny smiled as she pointed out a chestnut horse,” and I’ve seen that the cowboy who belongs to this horse is skinny with a great build, and a belt buckle as big as a dinner plate!

He’s a winner!”

Amy replied, “The horse or the cowboy?”

“Both!”

“You sure know how to pick them. But maybe you should get your own horse, and then you wouldn’t always have to be picking your boyfriends by the horses they ride!”

Choosing by appearances is nothing new. When prophet Samuel was to anoint David as king and Samuel thought he was too young, God said, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7.]

Good advice, even for Ginny. What if she looked at choices the way God did? As she grew in wisdom and years, Ginny learned hands-on about picking friends and making choices by God’s standards. It paid off. Her husband and helpmate showed qualities of kindness, integrity, fidelity, dependability and faith over the next four decades.  And it didn’t even matter that he didn’t have a horse!

Daily, dozens of everyday and seasonal choices face us–whether about friends, gifts, partners, jobs, houses, horses, cars, or activities. Faced with each decision, we can determine whose standards we are using – God’s or ours.

If we are picking friends by the horses they own – on four legs or under the hood – it’s time to abandon horse sense for God’s sense!

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]