Come Anytime, Come As You Are, But Come! By Jo Russell

“Where are you going dressed like that?” the school principal quizzed his newest teacher, Roberta, as she crossed the school ground from the teacherage to the school gate.

The last few months, the single teacher thought the whole settlement seemed like one that time left behind. With ten buildings and a handful of mobile homes, the tiny community housed and served the entire population as well as travelers along the highway who stopped out of desperation for repairs or cold drinks.

“The country store, of course” the teacher told her boss. She thought to herself, “Where else is there to go around here without driving fifty miles?”

“You can’t leave the school grounds dressed like that!”

“What?! But I’m off duty.”

“Not around here. You’re a teacher. People here expect that teachers are a cut above the rest. You’ll have to wear something else.”

She looked down at the orange and black tropical design that was perfect for a patio party. In this remote area where casual was the buzz word, Roberta saw many who showed up for church in worn Levis or cut-off jeans. Still, the halter-topped casual attire had passed muster by everyone else – but they lived in town a hundred miles away.

“What about yoga pants?” she offered. Remembering the continent-wide enthusiasm for the snug, comfortable pants, Roberta noted yoga pants became the just-right attire for any event just short of black tie.

The principal shook his head.

“A long dress, bonnet, and a hoop skirt?” she ventured with a grin.

“Not necessary,” was his terse reply.

Roberta’s last choice for the trek across the schoolyard was a new tee shirt and slacks, ironed nicely. This time, she was able to pass the principal’s office without his sending her back home to change.

Clothes: Do they make a man or a woman?  For until Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Life, they didn’t have to worry about clothes, closets, hangers, chests of drawers, boots, fashion trends, or color draping. Life was simple au naturale.

But when it comes to a relationship with God, one doesn’t have to wear clothes that are just right. Those in the tiny settlement who came to church in cut-off jeans – the best that they had – knew that. It’s attitude that counts – one of humility and acceptance of the most high God, Creator, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Jesus himself said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew. 11:28.] Can you imagine the hug that is infused in those words of love and comfort?

Have you ever thought it was too late for you to know God or Jesus? Recall the picture of the three crosses on the hill where Christ was crucified. One of two convicted criminals said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” [Luke23:42-43]

And Jesus’ reply was, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Even though the convicted man’s life showed him as a hardened criminal, Jesus knew the man’s honesty and humility at that moment. At last, Jesus was to him the Savior who had been promised.

It’s never too late. Come to Jesus. Come as you are, but come.

You won’t even need to change your clothes.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

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When the White Flag of Surrender is a Good Thing By Jo Russell

Bruce left work smiling. “Interesting woman!” he decided. He’d asked the trim, attractive brunette for a date in the great outdoors and she said she would go fishing with him the next weekend. From the first, she had been a mystery to him, working two jobs and showing up for work at the convenience store in nicer clothes than fit the job.

He knew Dee had fled across an ocean and a continent. Why? Bruce didn’t know yet. He only recognized that this bouncy, stunning woman had brought sunshine into his life and work–whether day or night shift. Life was good.

But it wasn’t an hour later that he grabbed the phone at home and Dee announced, “I’m really not into the dating thing. This is really structured. I’m more spontaneous. I just can’t go with you Saturday.”

When he was convinced after much debate she wouldn’t be swayed, he closed the conversation. “But I’m not giving up,” he said aloud to no one in particular. Then he thought of an answer.

When ringing jarred her awake at 3:30 the next Saturday morning, Dee fumbled to find the phone.

“Dave and I are going fishing. We’d like you to come along. We can pick you up in 30 minutes,” Bruce announced. He then added, “Is that spontaneous enough?”

Dee scrambled from bed, got ready for the outdoor adventure in 20 minutes flat.

But conceding to a date did not include surrendering her independence. She thought she would never, ever again throw a white flag into the battle between the sexes.

Once they stopped near the stream, she volunteered, “I’ll carry the ice chest.”

I’ll help you,” Bruce’s friend Dave offered.

“No, I’ll do it myself,” Dee insisted.

A few steps into the stream, tottering with the weight of the cooler, she slipped on the wet rocks.  The white foam ice chest shattered. It was like Abraham’s descendants – pieces that were more numerous than the sands. Bits of the chest bobbed downstream, along with a pint of fishing worms, potato salad, and bagged, seasoned steaks.  The cold sodas were intact, however.  Dee heard coughing on the shore. Both Dave and Bruce were doubled over with their faces turned from her – or were they laughing?

So began the zany, zigzag journey of Bruce and Dee’s courtship. It led to the realization that they  needed each other and God. The Bruce and Dee Team have been happily married more than 20 years now.


Feeling independent and competent? Like Dee, I find that feeling doesn’t last for long. I need God.

It’s not a new idea. Around 500 B.C., God asked the prophet Jeremiah to walk into town for a message. He was to go to the potter’s house, watch and learn. [Jeremiah 18: 1-3] As Jeremiah studied the skilled craftsman working, he saw the process of making a useful vessel isn’t always right the first time. Sometimes a pot is marred and needs to be reshaped. Or sometimes, it needs to be redesigned. A potter pushes it down and begins again with a hunk of clay. And what he or she creates then may be beautiful and perfect for its purpose. It is the same with us and God.

Jeremiah understood. None of us may stand cemented on the pedestal of independence and stay there on our own. We are dependent on God, the Master Potter. We are the clay.

Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “No, I’ll do it myself.”

Isn’t it time to let your Creator help? For what better purpose is trading independence to becoming the remarkable vessel that God makes us to be.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

Savoring Your Silver Crown By Jo Russell

“Daddy will take me to the county fair on Saturday unless he forgets,” my friend’s seven-year-old granddaughter Carole announced, “but I don’t think he will because he doesn’t have gray hair.”

She babbled on with the logic of the young as senior Jenny listened. “If you have gray hair, you can forget things. Like when Mr. Goodman had us do the same thing in music class two times because he forgot!”

With her hair dyed blond to cover the silver, Jenny sighed. Carole’s remarks were enough to make her feel old. Just this week, she had another senior moment: Hadn’t she forgotten her Tuesday hair appointment?

With more than half of the world population estimated at thirty and under, Jenny thought how difficult it is to focus on any of the positives of getting older besides having more free time and getting senior discounts.

But she began to see the way God honors the gray-haired by influencing the world one person at a time. Not just her with her own family.

Jenny remembered retirees who volunteer in life-changing programs, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, tutoring school-aged students, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, mentoring young couples in marriages or training entrepreneurs in new start-up businesses. Even when health or travel issues interfere, she realized she could model and share values of work, wisdom, right living, thoughtfulness, compassion, and love.

“Why, I can start right with a phone call to encourage or mentor someone!” Jenny decided, and she picked up the phone.

God honors seniors and their contribution. “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”  [Psalm 92:14-15 NIV]

Savor your silver crown! The bottom line is that God isn’t finished with either of us yet!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

Procrastination is Not a Town in Texas By Jo Russell

“Perfect pet door!” Jolene, my master, had decided as she slid open a ground-level window. It would make a temporary pet door in our country home. Collecting dust in the shed was the box with a weatherproof pet door. Jolene needed to get someone to put it in. She smacked her thumb last time she used a hammer. No wonder she put off messing with the new pet door.  She isn’t much of a carpenter.

But I wasn’t worried. As the hard-working resident guard dog, I, Adobe, personally guaranteed no one put a paw in who didn’t belong. I couldn’t speak for the cats. Snoozing through the summer with four paws in the air was what each of the two called work. They only came to life for meals. All night they partied with their friends. Now and then, one would leave a furry trophy inside where everyone would notice.

My hound dog nose is packed full of talent and skill. Right away, I liked the open window pet door.  It was easy. Simple. Barely having to raise a paw, I could step inside the Garden of Eden Hilton, which is what I call home. Food fare is delicious and service is five stars with a smile most of the time. I am thankful. Country dogs like me know which side our bread was buttered on – and hope someone drops a slice butter side up. “Biting the hand that feeds?” Never!

But one spring evening, I sprang to action with non-stop frenzied barking. “Intruder! Break-in!” I warned Jolene loudly.  Burglar! Traitor! Thief! Infidel! Terrorist! Opportunist! Freeloader!”

When Jolene peeked around the corner, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open.

The four-legged thing was furry, but odd. A white stripe divided its black back. Glaring at me with shiny black eyes as it ate pet food, I noticed it had a pointed black nose. Its tail trembled.

“It’s a skunk, Adobe!  Get back! Don’t let any of them in!” .

With a broom, Jolene nudged the black and white varmint toward the open door. As she closed it, she sighed, “Good job, Adobe!”

But more seasons went by until it was warm out again. The boxed pet door still collected dust. Jolene had put it off again. The open window pet door reigned. It was okay by me.

During my early evening sentry duty next to Jolene’s chair in the office, I was resting my eyes a little. Suddenly, my nose stood at attention. I barked, yipped, yelped and growled out threats of the terrible fate for intruders. This time the force was with them: Mama Skunk and four of her kits showed up. But just as skillfully as a cattle dog, I drove Mama and three trespassers outside. Then I took off after the fourth, cornering it in the living room.

“No more break-ins or food foraging, for you, Runt!” I snarled.

.Winding up with an especially terrifying bark and series of yips, I noted the kit had raised its tiny tail to fight dirty. With no warning, it was over. I took no prisoners. Never have I or the rug ever smelled the same again.

If only Jolene had put in the all-weather pet door!

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Putting off is procrastination. It’s isn’t a town in Texas or anywhere else.

Just as an envelope or e-mail may begin, “Urgent! Immediate attention required.” so our Creator stresses immediate attention to challenges in all aspects of our lives:

Work: “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” Proverbs 12:24.”

Relationships: “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” [Ephesians 4:26.]

Longevity:  “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” [James 4:13]

Eternity:  “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …” [Psalm 95:6-8]

Have you addressed the most immediate and important of all decisions–Who Jesus is to you?

But if you’ve handled that with skill and speed yet still face a skunk problem, God and Adobe would also agree that you need to give it your immediate attention. For when it comes to consequences, skunks are loaded to deal with life on earth, and not in Heaven.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 


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