Joe Cool by Jo Russell

Roberta welcomed the happy sounds of three tall teen boys, foraging in the kitchen and cupboards for more food. Two were her sons, David and Pete. The third was Joe, who, since they had been toddlers, shared their love of food and adventure.


All three young men had been raised with outdoor enthusiast parents. It just followed that they brought adventure into the kitchen as they looked for ingredients to make smoothies. Out with the Food Channel! In with Extreme Food Makeover!


Extreme Food had begun the night before when the teens asked Roberta to leave the room while Joe added his secret ingredient to chorizo and eggs [sausage and eggs].


“What do you think?” Roberta’s son, David, asked his mom after her first bite. She thought about cinnamon added to some Australian meat recipes. But she was out of that spice. After many wrong guesses, Joe fessed up. It was vanilla.


Now the towering teens searched for food stuffs while discussing future adventures. Activities would have to span camping, hiking, biking, exploring, and camp cooking.


While sharing smoothies, the boys’ ideas for activities began to bud. “Hey, let’s hike the General Crook Trail. It’s only 136 miles,” Pete suggested.

Friend Joe’s enthusiastic answer was, “Oh, cool!”


More smoothies and venues were discussed around the table loaded with vitamin-packed shakes. Each was different. Some combined milk with fruit. Others blended juice and fruit.

Another great idea came from Pete. None was surprised. “I was thinking about hiking the Continental Divide,” Pete added. “It’s about 2,300 miles.”


Joe’s reply, “Oh, cool!”

Feeling confident to share his plans and dreams with friends and family, Pete confided his latest idea – to climb Mt. Rainier over the summer.


Joe’s response was, of course, “Oh, cool!”

The smoothie fruit drinks disappeared quickly as the boys slurped up their shakes made from a few bananas, peaches, apples, pear, and part of a can of pineapple. Soon all the usual ingredients were depleted.
Joe was still hungry, so he scrounged to find what was left for the fifth refill of the blender. Satisfied, he filled the container with milk and cracked an egg into it. Then he added a protein-packed plop of peanut butter, and then finished it off with a frozen hot dog. The smoothie was absolute creativity full of protein and calcium! So healthy was the strange tan-speckled shake that Joe was the only one who would drink it. His reaction was predictable.

“Oh, cool,” he said after his first mouthful.


Like Joe’s lack of ingredients for the final smoothie, the ingredients we get in dealing with life require the best of our creativity and faith in God. He always comes through for us. Some examples from the Bible follow.

Ingredients: only enough oil and flour for one last cake of bread for a widow and her son. They expected starvation to follow after this last meal. [1 Kings 17]. Then a stranger showed up and asked for water and bread. Prophet Elijah assured her that the Lord would keep her in oil and flour if she did so. She never ran out of ingredients while the land was without rain and crops. Perhaps another lesson in this is “never assume.” We expect predictable results from what we know of man-made solutions. God has no limits.


Ingredients and conditions: It’s hot, and the prophet has no food or water. His feet are blistered, dusty, and sore. Elijah has a price on his head. The prophet had gotten in trouble with the queen, Jezebel, when he had her priests killed [1 Kings 19]. The prophet assumed that Jezebel’s followers would find and torture him. He concluded there were no other believers left in that land. Life simply wasn’t worth living anymore. The lacy shadow of the broom tree was thin shade in the heat. But God’s angel fed him. God reported 7000 believed in God as Elijah did. Read to find out the rest of the story.

Ingredients for emergency kit: no back-up supplies. From Mark 6:5: Jesus advised his disciples to go around to the villages, but take no extra food, no money, no extra clothes or sandals, and no advance registration at an inn or bed and breakfast. Not only had God provided for their basic needs, but also gave them the power to heal many of the sick along the way.

God knows our needs. The challenges He gives us build character. Ingredients are often spiked with surprises. Let the adventures begin!

What more can we say to that than “Oh, cool!”


[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, and For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

What Does Color Say About Your Bible? By Jo Russell

As Barbara listened carefully to the message in church, she asked herself, “Did I hear the clergyman right? Didn’t he just say, ‘The only good Bible is a red one.’?” Her heart dropped to the ground as she studied the beautiful gift her grown children had given her recently: a dark green plain-language Bible edition with her name engraved along with gold designs on the cover.

As Barbara thought over her journey back to God as an adult, she never remembered seeing any of the groups at church having a RED Bible. How could they be so wrong? Or was it the pastor?

Her concern showed on her face as she turned to her husband, her mouth pulling down at the corners. “Did you hear what he just said?” she whispered. “I don’t have the right color!”

Albert responded, “Honey, he means a read Bible, r-e-a-d, not the color!”
It’s true. Any book not read is a buried treasure. When it comes to the Bible, it has everything!

The treasure inside is priceless for all time and all generations. It is also a foundation for growing close to God and others.

Here are some reminders:

Courage and faith heading into the unknown: 9 Genesis 7:1–Noah; Genesis 12–: Abram and Lot; Exodus 2–Jochebed, mother, and son, Moses; Luke 1 — Mary, a virgin, engaged to be married agrees to be mother of God, though the usual punishment for out-of-wedlock pregnancy was death by stoning;Acts 9–Saul becomes blind and led into Damacus–becomes the Apostle Paul

Special effects: Exodus 7:4 –the plagues of Egypt; Exodus 14–The Red Sea parts for God’s people, but drowns the enemy; Numbers 22:21– talking donkey; Joshua 4– crossing the Jordan on dry land; Joshua 6– the battle of Jericho won with God’s help and no weapons. Mark 4:35– Jesus calms a storm

Miraculous childbirth: Genesis 21: Abraham and Sarah, parents of Isaac; 1 Samuel 1: Hannah and Elkanah, parents of Samuel, the prophet; Luke 1: Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist; Mary and God, the parents of Jesus

Romance: Genesis 24:15 – Isaac and Rebekah; Song of Songs 1:12–by Solomon

Conflict /rebellion/treason: Numbers 14:14–The Israelites want their fish, garlic and onions back! Job 1:1 – Job’s friends aren’t helping through his crises. Psalms– much of it written by David, who was being hunted down by the King Saul; 2 Samuel 18 — a son’s rebellion against his father, King David. Luke 22:20: Jesus knows Judas will betray him. Luke 22:34: Jesus predicts Simon Peter will deny him three times in one night. But Jesus goes on loving us – as he did them.

Selflessness: Luke 20:21–The widow gives all she has; Jesus shows scores of examples of selflessness in his actions.
Miracles and provision: All through the Bible.


Barbara remembered these things and smiled. It didn’t matter what her Bible looked like, but that she read it and every day learned more from God’s directions and stories.

Isn’t that a good lesson for all of us? Read the Bible, no matter what color it is.

[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, paperback available now on sale from her website [] and Amazon. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]


Mothers Change the World with Love, God and Cookies By Jo Russell

From the baking smells that flowed into the chapel, there was no guesswork in why the visitors dreamed of chocolate chip cookies instead of listening to the clergyman at the podium. The children’s class, headed up by teacher and mom Jan, had baked dozens of cookies for Mother’s Day. Jan stood guard over the warm sweets.

One deacon complained, “I tried to sneak some cookies, but Jan stood at the kitchen door with a knife in her hand!”

When it comes to influencing children and plying them with food, mothers have the market cornered. Grandma Brenda showed up to be construction supervisor over her grandsons, who had staged a sit-down strike. Work started up again as soon as the teens saw the praline-filled cookies tucked under her arm. She needed no other tools.

When Rene and her sons returned home from a three-day camp-out, one teen announced, “I don’t need a shower and you can’t make me take one.”
“That’s too bad,” she countered, “Because there are fifteen pieces of hot French toast and you won’t be eating any of them.” She heard him running the shower right away.

Food and moms are blended together like bread and butter. In Proverbs 31: “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family….” [Proverbs 31: 14-15] NIV. She may also be up late making lunches or prepping a meal for the next day.

But Moms do much more than ply the generations with food. They teach. They model. They shape the future. Paul writes of Timothy, chosen as a pastor, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” [2 Timothy 1:15] NIV. From wise King Solomon, “Listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” [Proverbs 1:8] NIV.

Mothers that you and I know have altered the future with love, God, and cookies. That’s just the way God planned it should be.

Honor the women in your life with words and actions that give them a high-five of appreciation. Each deserves it.

[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 and Amazon. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog. Remember the free e-book download of Which Button on Amazon today for Mother’s Day!]

What? Road Kill Again? By Jo Russell

As Roberta turned into the driveway after being gone all evening, she saw the car’s headlights illuminate a dark, furry and very still shape.

“Chalk another one up to the coyotes,” she thought. Remembering the meat-eaters roam free in the country, Roberta figured that’s what it was. Road kill. Carnivore kill. Whatever. She sighed heavily as she steered around the shape and got out of the car on the other side.

“Not tonight, God. I just can’t deal with this. It’s too dark now.” The shape, size and color ruled out the remains being any of her critters, Roberta knew, but by morning, rigor mortis would turn the body into something as stiff as a stale pizza crust.

At first light, Roberta donned gloves and hoisted a shovel. Ahead was the unpleasant task of burying the furry shape in the driveway. It hadn’t moved, of course. Resurrection only applies to Jesus.

But in spite of the dread she felt as she approached the still shape, she got a close look. Then her fear and assumptions vaporized. She erupted in laughter!

For there in the driveway–dark, furry and very still–was a pair of her lined winter gloves that had fallen out of the passenger side door pouch when she cleaned the car earlier. It was just a bad case of mistaken identity.

Mistaken identity and drawing the wrong conclusions happen often enough.
How often do you fail to understand what you see or experience? Where is the reality?
How will you get around the latest knotty problem? You might be asking yourself, “Why is God doing this to me? “

It happens often enough during any journey, including one with God. Paul says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” [1 Corinthians 13:12] NIV

We can be assured that God sees the entire length and width of our life and our challenges. He knows the solution, the outcome, the journey and the end. God is there to help us through all. Someday we will see and understand all. Not now.

His love prevails over all the fears and challenges of our lives, including a decent burial for gloves in the driveway!

[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, and Amazon. For more chuckles, to hear a speech, read excerpts, check this website and also the second edition e-book just released. Free Mother’s Day download May 9 to May 12, 2013.]

Free Mother’s Day Gift for You, Friends and Family: Promotion: Free download of the second edition of
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